Older Adults, Physical Distancing & Social Isolation During the COVID-19 Pandemic - What can Communities do NOW?

Date: April 16, 2020


Dr. John Puxty

Dr. John Puxty is a Geriatrician, Associate Professor and Chair of the Division of Geriatric Medicine at Queen's University, Director of the Southeastern Ontario Regional Geriatric Program and the Centre for Studies in Aging and Health and Chair of the Seniors Health Knowledge Network and Ontario Interdisciplinary Council for Aging and Health. He has a primary interest in promoting healthy aging and wellness for older adults through his ongoing research in aging, age friendly communities, memory disorders, and knowledge mobilization strategies.


Sarah Webster

Sarah began her career in long-term care and later transitioned into the field of knowledge translation and exchange. In her current role as Project Resource Consultant with the Centre for Studies in Aging and Health, as well as her extensive work with the Ontario Age-Friendly Communities Outreach Program, Niagara Connects, Behavioural Supports Ontario and Gestalt Collective, Sarah has a long history of helping people access information, connect to each other and strengthen their work. She is passionate about building relationships, seeing the big picture and helping people connect to and understand the information that matters to them. 


In response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, Canadians are required to practice ‘physical distancing’ and, when necessary, ‘self-isolation’. National and provincial governments are also advising older adults to stay home and avoid contact with others to reduce their risk of exposure, as they are among the most vulnerable to severe illness from the disease.
Dr. Puxty discusses the inherent barriers that will emerge for older adults trying to access daily essentials like food and medical supplies, spend quality time with their families and friends, and navigate assistance and services. He also explores the unintended health consequences that may emerge when vulnerable populations are isolated from others for an extended period.
It is imperative that we work together to find innovative, accessible and easy-to-implement solutions to tackle these emerging issues. Ms. Webster shares some of the creative ways communities are ensuring that older adults stay informed, and are able to access the services they need, accomplish their everyday chores, and stay socially active while adhering to physical distancing guidelines.


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