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‘Loneliness will kill’: N.L. long-term care homes struggled with COVID restrictions

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — A study from Newfoundland and Labrador’s Memorial University says visitor restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic left long-term care visitors with a “significant” increase in isolation, leading to concerns about residents’ mental and physical health.

The study surveyed 184 visitors of long-term care facility residents in the province and found pandemic restrictions led to feelings of loneliness, isolation, confusion and abandonment among their loved ones, particularly those with dementia.

It says 60 per cent of respondents reported that, during the restrictions, the overall health of their loved one declined, while for 20 per cent, the resident they visited died.

The study recommends the province always allow at least one visitor per resident, so quality of life can be maintained.

It also says socialization between residents should be prioritized by minimizing restrictions on regular extracurricular activities to avoid feelings of loneliness.

One of the survey respondents in the study hoped policymakers can find a middle ground the next time there is a similar situation, noting restrictions will need to be balanced because “loneliness will kill as well.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 3, 2024.

The Canadian Press

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