COVID-19: Consequences on hospitalized Elderly

Submitted by Mcgill University
September 9, 2020

I am a newly graduated nurse who began working this summer. It has definitely been a novel time to begin nursing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only has the implementation of additional precautions on the floor as well as within the hospital itself been extremely hard to navigate, the impact it has had on the patients admitted to in-patient wards has been significant. While working on a floor where the majority of patients were elderly, I have seen devastating impacts of the pandemic on these patients as with regards to the restrictions on visitors. In one particular case, I had an elderly patient whose condition was gradually deteriorating daily. Because there were strict guidelines concerning visitation within the hospital due to COVID-19, the patient was only able to have one visitor at a time. This was a patient who I had come to know as highly valuing his family. He would show me many pictures of his children and grandchildren on his phone and the light that came to his face upon speaking of his family was incredible to see.  I remember his family members coming and having to come on the unit one by one and rotate throughout the day. As the patient’s condition deteriorated, the regulations were eased and two family members were allowed to come see the patient. It was very heartbreaking to see an individual in their last days or months of life not being able to be surrounded by the people whom they cherish and value. Furthermore, the obligation to wear the mask, and gown when seeing the patient appeared to place a barrier between myself and the patient as well as the patient and his family. We know that mental health is crucial in a patients physical well-being and I have seen the negative impacts the social isolation caused by COVID-19 restrictions has affected our elderly patients in the hospital.  As a nurse, it is thus imperative that we do our best to comfort patients, and focus our attention on BEING with the patient even while DOING for the patient. This is a concept part of strengths based nursing that I have begun to learn at University and it is one that has really stuck with me in view of the circumstances we are facing. Every bit of compassion and comfort we can provide for our patients during our shift will aid with their well-being. It is something that is even more crucial during these trying times.