Caregivers For the Elderly Take on New Challenges With Physical Distancing

Aging populations are particularly at risk to COVID-19, leading caregivers to think creatively on how to assist senior while maintaining a physical distance.

The most vulnerable to COVID-19 and its consequences are the elderly and immunocompromised.

“We have learned what an essential person is in our society and it’s rarely the people that get paid a lot of money.” – Desiree Cooper, journalist

Elder care and the isolation aging populations typically endure has come into renewed focus during this global health crisis. How is enforced physical distancing impacting older populations and those who take care of them? 

Click on the player above to hear the triumphs and challenges of elder care in the time of COVID-19. 


Desiree Cooper is a journalist and activist as well as a full-time caregiver for her aging parents.

Cooper says her day-to-day hasn’t changed much amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As a caregiver for both of her parents, Cooper says she had already been living in her own bubble for a long time.

“The biggest difference is knowing I can’t go sit down in a restaurant or go to a bookstore,” says Cooper. 

 The current health crisis has prompted a reevaluation of the elder care system in the U.S., a discussion Cooper welcomes.

“It’s kind of been the way we’ve gone from more centralized to decentralized in a lot of things, and I wonder if nursing care is the next thing,” says Cooper. Compensation for skilled caregivers has also received renewed scrutiny. “We have learned what an essential person is in our society and it’s rarely the people that get paid a lot of money.”

Jake Neher/WDET
Jake Neher/WDET

Wendy Jones, founder and CEO of Next Steps 4 Seniors, says she has been able to continue to provide housing and care guidance for seniors virtually during this time of physical distancing. 

“Obviously with social distancing we have worked remotely from home and have been walking alongside families via phone,” says Jones. “We have been able to adapt and do everything remotely.”

Even in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, Jones said about 50% of senior living facilities are still accepting new admissions. Jones says she has been really impressed with those in the elder care industry, who have found creative solutions to the limitations imposed by physical distancing.

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