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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 4-10

Coronavirus disease 2019 and the elderly: Focus on psychosocial well-being, agism, and abuse prevention – An advocacy review

1 Department of Psychiatry, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
2 Department of Psychiatry, JSS Medical College and Hospital and JSS Academy of Higher Education and Research, Mysuru, Karnataka, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Debanjan Banerjee
Department of Psychiatry, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), Bengaluru
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jgmh.jgmh_16_20

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Age and agism are significant vulnerabilities for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). While the number of cases and fatalities rises throughout the globe, the elderly are prone both to the physiological and psychosocial aftermaths of the infection. As the focus on management is predominantly directed toward precautionary measures and searching for a biological cure, the mental well-being of this vulnerable population is unfortunately neglected. Besides being prone to isolation, loneliness, stress, grief, depression, and anxiety during the lockdown, the seniors are also victims of stigma, prejudice, and abuse, stemming from agism. Substance abuse-related complications and cognitive disorders are added concerns. Elder abuse in every form has particularly been concerning during the present pandemic. Especially those staying alone, those with sensory or cognitive impairment, and those institutionalized are at a greater risk. Considering the increasing number of aging population, such biological disasters can have notable acute and long-term consequences on overall health and well-being of the seniors, if not adequately cared for. A holistic care based on biopsychosocial model needs to be in force for elderly mental health care during the pandemics, supplemented by research to shape policies. Keeping this in background, the advocacy review glances at the unique challenges that the older adults face during COVID-19 with special focus on psychosocial well-being, agism, and abuse. It also highlights the important facets for elderly care and abuse prevention during such crises.

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