Lindsey Reed / Oaknoll Retirement Residence

The elderly are especially vulnerable to COVID-19. The country’s first big outbreak was at a nursing home in Washington state, and more recently nursing homes and senior living facilities in places like Indiana, Illinois and Iowa have had experienced dozens of cases -- and deaths. Now, these places are facing a lot of pressure to keep residents safe -- and occupied. 

Photo by Carter Barrett/Side Effects Public Media.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says people over 65 have the highest risk for deadly complications from the new coronavirus. So they’ve been told to stay quarantined. But loneliness can trigger other serious health problems in seniors, like depression or dementia. This has left senior centers facing tough decisions about staying open.

The Health Toll Of Loneliness

Sep 21, 2016
FlyingDJI/via Flickr

Loneliness is often overlooked or stigmatized in our society.  Wisconsin Public Radio speaks with Dr. Carla Perissinotto, a geriatrician in San Francisco, who studies loneliness about the health risks of loneliness and why she says we should start taking it seriously. Click below to listen to the conversation:

Grandma On Facebook? It Could Be Good For Her Health

Aug 31, 2016
Eduardo Woo/via Flickr

Professor Bill Chopik is here to make you feel really bad about all the times you wanted to run, screaming, from the room after trying to teach your grandparents how to download a photo attachment from an email.

Just Turned 40? An Architect Says It's Time To Design For Aging

Apr 6, 2016

When Architect Matthias Hollwich was approaching 40, he wondered what the next 40 years of his life might look like. He looked into the architecture that serves older adults, places like retirement communities and assisted living facilities, and didn't like what he saw. But what if we changed our habits earlier in life so we could stay in the communities we already live in?

For Family Caregivers, Basic Skills Training Becomes Part Of The Game

Mar 31, 2016
Angela Bobo kisses her mother on the forehead.
Kimberly Paynter / WHYY

Dementia has been slowly stealing Ruth Perez's memory and thinking ability for 20 years.

"She would put food together that didn't belong together--hamburger and fish in a pot--mom never cooked like that," said Angela Bobo, Perez's daughter. 

The mother and daughter live together in Chester, Pennsylvania, just outside of Philadelphia. 

Perez is the center of the family, and spends much of her day tucked under a fleece blanket—on a barcalounger in the middle of the living room. The 86 year old doesn't seem to notice as her daughter and grown grandchildren come and go, but they keep up a steady one-sided conversation with her anyway.


Trending For 2016: The Senior-Friendly Gym

Jan 19, 2016
Catherine South, 79, with fitness instructor Marilyn Ruehlman at Fitworks in Beavercreek, Ohio.
Lewis Wallace / WYSO

It’s that time of year again, when many of us return to our lapsed gym memberships or perhaps join a new one as part of a new year’s resolution to get fit. Gyms and health clubs have been a growth market for decades now, and it turns out the fastest-growing group for gym membership is people over 55.

As a result, some fitness centers are trying to tailor their programs and their vibe to seniors.

Roving Senior Center Pops Up in San Diego

Nov 9, 2015
Agnes Conradt and Evie Kosower play Mexican train with their neighbors, Oct. 12, 2015.
Brian Myers / Media Arts Center San Diego

Twice a month older residents in a hilly, residential section of City Heights in San Diego, California meet to play board games. Each neighbor takes turns hosting a game, while everyone else takes responsibility for snacks. This week, it's Mexican train, a game similar to dominoes.

Evie Kosower, 81, moved in 12 years ago and helped form the sort of roving senior center. 

Doctor Treats Homebound Patients, Often Unseen Even By Neighbors

Nov 9, 2015

Dr. Roberta Miller hits the road at 8 a.m. to see her patients.

Many are too old or sick to go to the doctor. So the doctor comes to them.

She's put 250,000 miles on her Honda minivan going to their homes in upstate New York. Home visits make a different kind of care possible.

How N.Y.'s Biggest For-Profit Nursing Home Group Flourishes Despite a Record of Patient Harm

Oct 28, 2015
Charlie Stewart lost most of his leg to a wound that turned gangrenous during a 2013 hospital stay.
Allegra Abramo / ProPublica

Charlie Stewart was looking forward to getting out of the nursing home in time for his 60th birthday.  On his planned release day, in late 2012, the Long Island facility instead called Stewart's wife to say he was being sent to the hospital with a fever.

When his wife, Jeanne, met him there, the stench of rotting flesh made it difficult to sit near her husband. The small wounds on his right foot that had been healing when Stewart entered the nursing home now blackened his entire shin.