Social isolation and loneliness are two of the worries that worry after a pandemic (Image: Shutterstock)
The importance of social determinants of health has gained prominence in this sector over the past decade. It has been found to be responsible for 80% to 90% of health outcomes, and a great deal of research has shown that regardless of advances in medicine and care, the health of individuals and societies will not improve if social factors are not addressed.. The pandemic is highlighting one of these factors: social isolation.
It is defined as “an objective deficit in the number of relationships and frequent contact with family, friends, and society,” and is associated with increased rates of loneliness, suicide, high blood pressure and other effects on physical health that can be mediated by neurohormone-immune pathways. prove that As dangerous as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, social isolation has been identified as deserving of a public health priority.
In 2017, the AARP (an independent, nonprofit US organization serving the needs and interests of people over the age of 50) reported that only 14% of elderly people in the United States were socially isolated, but accounted for $ 6.7 billion in additional spending on healthcare. In an August survey in that country, 61% of people aged 50 and over reported that they have experienced social isolation since the start of the epidemic, and the condition is exacerbated for those who live in rural areas. however, The health care system in the United States rarely discusses social isolation with patients.
Only 14% of US seniors were socially isolated, but they accounted for $ 6.7 billion in additional healthcare spending. (Shutterstock)
report about National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine He noted that being able to discover patients’ social needs requires valid and reliable tools and systems to help their use become routine. In addition to social isolation, Screening tools should also include an emphasis on loneliness, which is different from social isolation. Loneliness arises from the discrepancy between the required level and the actual level of social contact, and is itself associated with adverse health effects.
The United Kingdom has begun to incorporate social isolation into its policies and approaches. In 2018, then Prime Minister Theresa May listed social isolation and loneliness as two strategic priorities, appointed unity minister, allocated funds to address the problem, and collaborated with technology companies to devise creative solutions.. This patriotic approach has led to important innovations, such as the city of Leeds providing frontline workers with an app that allows them, when in the community, to document potential signs of isolation (such as closed curtains or piles of mail); The app then creates heat maps that report the arrival of the city community in a more efficient manner. In 2020, the current Minister for Soledad, Baroniza Baran, announced that it will grant 5 million pounds (about 6.7 million dollars) to non-profit organizations for initiatives aimed at reaching an increasing number of people at risk of loneliness.
Screening tools should also include an emphasis on loneliness, which is different from social isolation (Image: Shutterstock)
It is not a good idea to be alone
If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught the healthcare community and others anything, it is that there is capacity to adapt and change course. Rush University Medical Center in Chicago added a question about social contact to the standard social determinants of the health assessment tool (“In a typical week, how often do you talk to family, friends, or neighbors?”) They have referral pathways for interventions such as a friendly advocacy initiative in which community volunteers and Rush staff Students and AmeriCorps members will conduct weekly social calls to seniors who request them. To date, more than 600 calls have been completed. To improve focus, a joint design process is underway that includes people who have reported isolation or loneliness.
Consumer groups analyzing the effects of loneliness and isolation on those in long-term care facilities during the pandemic have recommended ways to expand visiting and socializing policies, while still maintaining infection control strategies. For example, peer mentoring programs help residents maintain social connections and have shown additional benefits for mentoring residents. An increasing number of health centers are trying to allow flexible alternatives for “primary caregivers” to visit residents in an effort to reduce the unintended consequences of isolation on the health and well-being of the population.
“In the -sostine future Eve EscalanteHe is a specialist at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago and lead author of research on the topic -, There should be continued recognition of the inherent relationship between social isolation and other social determinants of health, as well as the utilization of community care and support to meet social needs.Public Health Solutions, a non-profit organization focused on improving the health and well-being of vulnerable families and communities in New York City, determined that seniors living in public housing were experiencing greater social isolation during COVID-19, in part because they were unable to. From accessing and using the Internet to accessing medicines, health visits, food and social support.
Social distancing and using masks are essential to avoid infection (Image: Shutterstock)
Although structural changes in society can provide a bottom-up approach to preventing social isolation, there are two major barriers to healthcare systems: the lack of time available as part of routine care to discover and discuss isolation and loneliness. During the visits, the lack of direct payment for such discussions under the fee-for-service payment regulations. althoug The payment due creates an incentive to invest in preventative care, and most health systems and taxpayers have a large number of initiatives to improve the quality and health of the population. This makes it difficult to determine the return on investment from initiatives that focus specifically on loneliness and isolation, thus ensuring continuous resources.The specialist says.
Connecting with others is an essential part of what it means to be human. It provides meaning and purpose for life and creates supportive safety nets for people to turn to during adversity. However, to the detriment of the most vulnerable people, society has consistently prioritized values such as self-reliance and independence over association and interdependence. The epidemic highlights that this must change now and continue during the post-pandemic era.
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