Nearly a year after the first senior citizens in Minnesota received the COVID vaccine, many of the state’s elderly residents have yet to travel with friends and family — especially unvaccinated grandchildren — or venture back into public places and share their former lives. -Resuming pandemic exercise routines, raising concerns with experts about the health dangers associated with isolation and depression.
At the same time, COVID-related deaths in nursing homes ticked upward through the end of the summer, a grim reminder that the pandemic is still not backwards.
Those are the findings of two new studies published by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, which this summer surveyed senior citizens across the state, and AARP Minnesota, which maintains a COVID-19 dashboard that supports Medicare and Tracks federally reported COVID data from Medicaid centers. Services on monthly basis.
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield study found that while 90 percent of the state’s senior citizens have been vaccinated, some seniors are slowly “returning to normalcy”.
From July 26 to August 13, researchers surveyed 500 Minnesota residents aged at least 64 who had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine — from Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson.
One in five seniors not yet visited with family, friends
Overall, one in five senior citizens had yet to go with any family or friends, according to the findings. Two out of five senior citizens surveyed said they do not feel comfortable socializing with unvaccinated grandchildren.
Most vaccinated seniors said they were dissatisfied with their health, with a third of those who exercised regularly since pre-pandemic times still waiting to return to an exercise regimen.
On the other hand, two-thirds of vaccinated seniors reported having regular face-to-face interactions with others and enjoying a more active lifestyle now than earlier in the pandemic.
More than half of vaccinated seniors said they had returned to public places such as shopping centers and restaurants.
Among vaccinated seniors, 95 percent said they were still following at least one COVID-19 precaution, the survey found, such as avoiding crowds or wearing a mask.
Recognizing the dangers to seniors from successful COVID cases, Blue Cross health experts noted that previous studies have linked social isolation and loneliness to potentially life-threatening medical conditions, including dementia, heart disease, depression. and concerns are involved.
Dr. Mark Stephen, Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of Blue Cross, said, “The vaccine has been a savior for many senior citizens in Minnesota as they begin to return to the activities they have missed the most, but the pandemic is certain. is taking a toll.” and Blue Shield of Minnesota, in a written statement.
“Socializing outside…is a great way to stay connected with friends and family,” he said. “But with successful infections, it is important that seniors continue to protect themselves and others by wearing masks indoors in areas where there are high levels of COVID-19 transmission, even if they have been vaccinated. “
92% of nursing home residents vaccinated
On a monthly basis, AARP posts on its online dashboard federal data reported by nursing homes certified by Medicare or Medicaid, which does not include assisted living or other long-term care facilities.
AARP Minnesota reported that vaccination rates among nursing home residents and staff in the state have increased, with 92 percent of residents and 70 percent of staff fully vaccinated as of September 19, up from 91 percent in mid-August and 68 percent of staff. above percentage.
Still, nursing homes have not been immune to COVID outbreaks and breakthrough cases. In Minnesota, COVID-related deaths increased from 1 in 5,000 nursing home residents to 1 in 1,000 residents between August and September.
This is a five-fold increase. Nationally, COVID deaths in nursing homes doubled during the same period.
The dashboard, assembled by the AARP Public Policy Institute in collaboration with the Scripps Gerontology Center at the University of Miami in Ohio, is available online at aarp.org/nursinghomedashboard.
Other findings show that chronic staffing problems continue in Minnesota nursing homes, with 57 percent of facilities reporting a shortage of nurses or aides. Shortages in the four weeks ending September 19 have also increased nationally, with 29 percent of nursing facilities lacking staff. , equal to the highest level of reduction seen since last winter’s COVID wave.
Nationally, more than half of health care workers in nursing homes are now vaccinated in every state. AARP has called on nursing homes and long-term care facilities to require that staff and residents be vaccinated against the coronavirus, and the Biden administration has called for immunizations for staff in nursing homes and most health care receiving Medicare or Medicaid payments. Plans to require settings are announced.