I just posted on the falsehood being perpetuated that older adults (they were referred to as “the elderly” which is a demeaning and ageist term) have the highest risk for vitamin D deficiency when the truth is that they have the lowest risk. It is just a small example of the prejudice older adults face. But a larger example? Prejudice, discrimination, marginalization, and apathy towards older adults in this country have led to disproportionately higher death rates from COVID-19 in long-term care homes.
No one should refer to COVID-19 as the Chinese flu or the Wuhan virus; however, it may be fitting to call it the Nursing Home Virus, at least in the US.
2.1 million Americans, representing 0.62% of the U.S. population, reside in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
As of May 22, in the 43 states that currently report such figures, an astounding 42% of all COVID-19 deaths have taken place in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
And 42% could be an undercount. States like New York exclude from their nursing home death tallies those who die in a hospital, even if they were originally infected in a long-term care facility. Outside of New York, more than half of all deaths from COVID-19 are of residents in long-term care facilities.
As you can see from the map, care homes account for:
81% of COVID-19 deaths in Minnesota
70% of COVID-19 deaths in Ohio
69% of COVID-19 deaths in Pennsylvania
This doesn’t have to happen. In Japan, where there is widespread respect for older adults and a sense of obligation to care for them, less than 10%, or “about 60 of Japan’s 624 coronavirus-related deaths as of May 10 were in care homes.”