Loneliness, stress and lack of sleep can all weaken your body’s natural defences, thereby making you more susceptible to infection and disease. Your immune system might produce inflammatory cytokines which can generate sustained upper respiratory infection symptoms. That is why, when we are under sustained stress we often get more colds, flus and other respiratory diseases.
The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown measures have forced many people into voluntary or mandatory self-isolation. This appears to have hastened disease, and even death, in some cases. The effect has been seen more markedly in our elderly population. Doctors and caregivers have reported increased falls and a decrease in physical strength and movement. The confinement and social isolation also fuel depression, which in turn increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.
For anyone taking care of an elderly person or anyone in a situation of prolonged isolation, it is important to show care, love and support. The creative use of technology can keep people in touch with loved ones or others in a similar situation. It is also important to make sure that basic health and hygiene routines are kept to and that any symptoms are treated immediately with the necessary medical oversight.
We are all in this together. Let us support each other.
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