Senior Citizens Face Double-Edged Sword of COVID-19

Senior Citizens Face Double-Edged Sword of COVID-19

August 18, 2020

Mary Gilliam, MBA, LNHA

            We’ve now had several months experience with COVID-19 and it’s become abundantly clear that senior citizens are the ones most at risk.  This is especially true for seniors with underlying health issues, such as serious heart conditions, lung disease, or a compromised immune system.  The relatively high COVID-19 infection and death rates among seniors is well documented and won’t be repeated here.  Instead, I’d like to focus on a less discussed risk associated with medical quarantine, a practice that is touted as the first line of defense when protecting this most vulnerable segment of our population.

Some argue that it makes intuitive sense to quarantine our vulnerable senior citizens from younger folks who may be infected with COVID-19 and capable of infecting others even though they, themselves, are completely asymptomatic.  Problems arise, however, if this medical quarantine turns into social isolation.

Social isolation comes with its own risks.  Seniors who are isolated from others in the community – whether it be at home or in a health care facility – risk succumbing to stress and depression which, in turn, can adversely affect the immune system.  Social isolation among seniors can increase disorientation and the risk of falls.  Isolation can reduce physical activity and that can lead to dehydration, along with urinary tract infection.  Social isolation can contribute to a solitary lifestyle that can reduce the level of mental stimulation and thereby increase the risk of dementia.  None of this is good for the seniors we are trying so hard to protect.

How do we keep a medical quarantine of our senior citizens from devolving into a form of social isolation?

For seniors who live in a health care community, we need to provide additional opportunities for increased social interaction.  This could include bingo over an audio system, outdoor walking groups, pen pal letters, and social distancing meals with a friend instead of eating alone in his or her room.

For seniors who live at home, we need to find creative ways to promote more social interaction and meaningful engagement.  Grandchildren can play outside so grandparents can see and physically interact with them.  Perhaps you can teach the seniors in your life to use FaceTime so they can stay connected to the family by watching important family activities, such as playtime with the grandchildren, family supper, and evening prayers before bedtime.  They might even be encouraged to engage in social activity via FaceTime with their friends in the senior community.  Essential caregivers can not only provide care, but also reduce isolation with social interaction.

As states continue to re-open their economies, there undoubtedly will be an increasingly greater amount of social interaction and an increase of COVID-19 infections among those whose health will be relatively unaffected by the disease.  All the more reason to protect our vulnerable senior citizens.  Let’s just re-double our efforts to ensure that medical quarantine doesn’t devolve into social isolation.

How To Make A Homemade Face Mask

How To Make A Homemade Face Mask

April 9, 2020

Mary Gilliam, MBA, LNHA


During this pandemic, the CDC now recommends a face mask for the general population while out of the home.  Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is hard to come by even for essential healthcare entities around the world, therefore, the usage of a cloth mask is recommended.

Want to make your own?

Monarch Senior Home Care has deconstructed an N95 mask and rebuilt it using items you can find at your local store.


Cotton Fabric                          Iron

Felt                                          Sewing Machine

Fuzzy Sticks                             Scissors

Elastic                                     Pins

Swiffer Dry Unscented Sweeping Cloths (or use preferred liner.)



Cut Fabric and Liner into rectangles: 6.5” wide by 7” long

Cut Felt into two rectangles: 6.5” wide by 4” long (2 pieces of felt per mask is used.)

Take Fabric and Liner and sew around edges.  If you use the Swiffer Cloth, make sure the fluffy part of the Swiffer is facing the fabric, flat side out.  When sewing, you’ll need to put the Swiffer Fabric down, the Fabric up and if possible use a zig zag pattern (4 wide, 2 stitches apart.)


4 cm from the bottom fold over with 1 cm in front.  Iron.

2.5 cm from the fold with a 1 cm in front.  Iron

2.5 cm from the fold with another 1 cm in front.  Iron.

You should have three pleats.  Iron the folded fabric.  Final measurements with folds are 6.5” wide by 4” long.

Take two pieces of felt and cut out  middle approximately 4.5” by 1.5” in a rectangle shape with rounded edges.

Place both pieces of felt on the back of fabric and liner.  Pin to keep in place.

Sew around perimeter of mask.

Take one fuzzy stick, half it (twist it so it is one shorter stick) and cut an inch off the end.

Place the fuzzy stick in between the two layers of felt at the top of the mask.

Sew a straight line at the top to secure the wire.

Add elastic.  For ear loops, use 1/8” elastic cut 2 pieces 7” long and sew horizontal at top and bottom of each side on mask.

For over the head, use 1/4” or 3/8” elastic, cut 2 pieces (9.5” and 10.5” long and sew vertical at the top and bottom of each side on mask.  The longer piece (10.5”) goes on the top of the mask.  The smaller piece (9.5”) goes on the bottom.

Wearing Your Mask:

Make sure mask securely covers nose and mouth, drawing bottom down around chin.  Use metal to metal wire to secure around the nose.

Machine wash after use.

For detailed pictures with the step by step instructions visit the Monarch Senior Home Care Facebook Page.


A message to our community: Follow CDC guidelines for mask usage.  Homemade masks are not recommended for effective use with COVID-19 presumed or positive persons.  They are a good alternative for non-clinicians going to grocery and essential stores.

Be Safe and Stay at Home. 


Mary Gilliam’s passion for serving seniors has become a lifelong mission.  She is the founder of Monarch Senior Home Care and responsible for leading the in-home care partners and senior advisors.

Mary holds a Master’s Degree of Business Administration with an emphasis on Health Care Administration and is a multi-state Licensed Nursing Home Administrator.  She has been in long term care operations since 2002 serving those in assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing.