Tom Meuser discusses the impacts of isolation on older adults with the Forecaster

Photo of Tom Meuser, founding director of the U N E Center for Excellence in Aging and Health

The Forecaster recently interviewed Tom Meuser, Ph.D., founding director of the University of New England Center for Excellence in Aging and Health (CEAH), for an article about the impact isolation is having on older adults during the pandemic.

Meuser, along with students and other faculty, are holding Zoom sessions with older adults to keep them engaged. They are also making phone calls to 430 Legacy Scholars, a group of adults aged 55 and older who are participating as subjects in research studies at UNE on health and wellness in aging.

Meuser told the Forecaster one isolated woman told him she had not showered or changed clothes in four days.

“Part of the conversation was self-care, and I challenged her,” Meuser said. “Somebody else from the outside can say ‘Look, this is what’s happening,’ and I think for her it was a wake-up call.”

Meuser says isolation, loneliness, and despair can materialize if older adults are not having sufficient social contact with others and if they don’t see hope for the future. But, he adds, many older adults have learned to be resilient to get through tough times.

“If you’ve made it to the seventh or eighth or ninth decade of life, you have built up a tremendous resource of life experience and ingrained resilience,” Meuser commented. “That gives me a lot of comfort in the present crisis.”

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