Thursday, April 11, 2024

Hostility Creating Isolation

A recent study found that older adults are spending less time in public due to hostility against people in masks. 

"The study comes amid what the U.S. Surgeon General recently called an 'epidemic of loneliness' in which older adults - especially those who are immune compromised or have disabilities - are particularly vulnerable. . . . 60% of respondents said they spend more time in their home while 75% said they dine out less. Some 62% said they visit cultural and arts venues less, adn more than half said they attend church or the gym less than before the pandemic. . . . 80% of respondents reported that there are some places they are reluctant to visit in person anymore. 'The thought of going inside a gym with lots of people breathing heavily and sweating is not something I can see myself ever doing again,' said one 72-year-old male. Those who said they still go to public places like grocery stores reported that they ducked in and out quickly and skipped casual chitchat. . . . 

Many respondents reported that they were afraid of getting infected with a virus or infecting young or immune-compromised loved ones, and said they felt 'irresponsible' for being around a lot of people. Some reported getting dirty looks or rude comments when wearing masks or asking others to keep their distance - interpersonal exchanges that reinforced their inclination to stay home. . . . The loss of spontaneous interactions in what sociologists call 'third places' could have serious health consequences. . . . 

Finlay hopes that her work can encourage policymakers to create spaces more amenable to people of all ages who are now more cautious about getting sick - things like outdoor dining spaces, ventilated concert halls or masked or hybrid events. She also hopes that people will give those still wearing masks or keeping distance some grace."

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