One tomb, dubbed "M3," contained carvings of several mythicalcreatures, including four that represent different seasons and parts of the heavens: the White Tiger of the West, the Vermilion Bird of the South, the Black Turtle of the North and the Azure Dragon of the East.
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All data and statistics are based on publicly available data at the time of publication. Some information may be out of date.
As part of a new series of features, MNT has looked into how the pandemic affects women’s reproductive rights, people that may find themselves in an abusive relationship, as well as the mental health of people of color and those belonging to an ethnic minority group.
In this Special Feature, we examine the impact that the pandemic has had on another group that gets frequently overlooked: older adults.
Older adults are more likely to already have underlying conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or respiratory illness — comorbidities that we now know raise the risk of severe COVID-19 and COVID-19-related death. In addition, a likely weaker immune system makes it harder for older adults to fight off infection.
As a result, the impact on older adults is notable. According to World Health Organization (WHO) data from April 2020, more than 95% of COVID-19 deaths were among people over 60 years of age, and more than half of all deaths occurred in people of 80 years-plus.
In Sweden, for example, 90% of the deaths from COVID-19 were among people more than 70 years of age.
The Chinese Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offered data in March showing an average COVID-19 case fatality rate of 3.6% for adults in their 60s, 8% for those in their 70s, and 14.8% for people 80 years and above.
“Older adults are at a significantly increased risk of severe disease following infection from COVID-19,” said Dr. Hans Henri P. Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe in a WHO press briefing, who added:
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While the wider community should indeed be preoccupied with the health and well-being of older adults, there are epicenters to the current crisis, and nursing homes, alongside hospitals, are one such place.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warn that “nursing home populations are at the highest risk of being affected by COVID-19,” compounding not only the risk for older people but also placing care workers at risk.
The New York Times (NYT) gathered recent data showing that in the U.S., at least 28,100 residents and workers have died from a SARS-CoV-2 infection in a nursing home or in another long-term care facility for older people.
Overall, more than a third — that is, 35% — of all COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. occur in long-term care facilities, comprising residents and workers.
“While just 11 percent of the country’s cases have occurred in long-term care facilities,” say the authors of the NYT report, “deaths related to COVID-19 in these facilities account for more than a third of the country’s pandemic fatalities.”
In other parts of the world, the situation looks dire, too. Data collected by researchers at the London School of Economics (LSE), in the United Kingdom, suggest that the majority of COVID-19-related deaths occurred in nursing homes.
In Belgium, for example, 53% of the country’s entire number of COVID-19 deaths occurred in care homes.
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- In Spain, 67% of all COVID19 deaths occurred in care homes.
- In the U.S., nearly 60% of all care home-related COVID-19 deaths occurred in the state of New York.
In Belgium, for example, 72% of staff diagnosed with COVID-19 showed no symptoms at the time; neither did 74% of the residents who had tested positive for the new coronavirus.
Despite these alarming figures, the U.S. federal government are not keeping track of this data. Withholding key nuanced information about whom the pandemic is affecting hardest is in the way of directing resources where people need them the most.
“It’s impossible to fight and contain this virus if we don’t know where it’s located,” David Grabowski, a professor of healthcare policy at Harvard Medical School, told NBC News.
Prof. Grabowski added that knowing this information could help predict where the next outbreak will be; other NGO advocates agree that knowing which nursing homes have the highest number of cases can help states direct resources where the need is the greatest.
According to the CDC, at least half of the older adults living in these care facilities have Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, which makes it more difficult to contain possible infections with the new coronavirus.
One of the specific challenges for people living with dementia and similar forms of cognitive impairment is that they may have difficulty understanding the dangers of infection. Also, they may forget to follow safety precautions, such as washing their hands or practicing physical distancing.
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On the other hand, people with dementia themselves who have COVID-19 and need hospitalization may avoid it because they fear that, due to hospital triaging protocols, they may fall at the bottom of the ladder when it comes to receiving medical resources and attention.
Furthermore, people may be discouraged from seeking medical attention for dementia itself if they start to display symptoms; memory clinics are shutting, as seeing new patients is perceived to be riskier than for some people not to receive a dementia diagnosis.
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Some have suggested that ageism — that is, a discriminatory attitude towards people of more advanced age — may have significantly contributed to the detrimental effects on the health and longevity of older adults with COVID-19.
For instance, Joan Costa-Font, an associate professor at LSE’s department of health policy, suggests that countries that tend to view their elders with more respect have implemented physical distancing measures more promptly, even if such measures primarily impacted the social lives of younger people.
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– Joan Costa-Font
However, it is worth noting that other countries, for example, Japan, where there is a tradition of respecting the elders, did not choose to have a lockdown.
According to the same author, “a delayed introduction of a lockdown is not the only way we reveal the low social value of older individuals.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has also shown how poorly funded, and disorganized long-term care facilities are in several European countries. In the U.K., for example, a government study that used genome tracking to investigate the spread of outbreaks has only recently discovered that temporary staff had unwittingly spread SARS-CoV-2 between care homes as the pandemic grew.
Furthermore, “In the absence of affordable formal care, older individuals are informally cared for by family members (or go with unmet needs). Reliance on informal care explains the early expansion of the pandemic in countries with stronger family ties such as Italy, Spain, China, and Korea,” notes Costa-Font.
The author goes on to highlight the particularly severe impact that quarantines have on older people who tend to live alone and need more care.
“In many countries, caregivers have been “双十一”买家具避免陷阱 低价产品要看好细则 in need to reduce the chance of contagion. But when older people are less disabled, they are more likely to be left on their own, with unmet needs.”
Furthermore, other authors have analyzed the ageist portrayal of older adults in social media, which reflects a similar attitude of indifference through disparaging twitter hashtags (such as referring to COVID-19 as the #boomerremover) and other memes.
An ageist attitude, combined with policy responses, has a range of negative effects on older adults, including leading to social isolation, loneliness, and a rise in elder abuse.
Loneliness is a known factor that negatively affects a person’s mental health and well-being, and some older adults were already at a higher risk of experiencing it. Deteriorating health or the death of partners and friends may get in the way of maintaining a healthy social circle.
However, the pandemic and the quarantine heighten this risk of loneliness.
“Loneliness is a complex, subjective emotion, experienced as a feeling of anxiety and dissatisfaction associated with a lack of connectedness or communality with others,” explain Joanne Brooke and Debra Jackson in a paper appearing in the Journal of Clinical Nursing.
The authors go on to highlight the importance of loneliness and social isolation for mental and physical health.
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— Joanne Brooke and Debra Jackson
What is more, emerging reports have shown that lockdowns raise the risk of abuse among older people.
During the pandemic, older adults have become even more dependent on their caregivers, and, in a pattern similar to the one that has raised the rates of domestic violence, some caregivers have used the pandemic to exercise their control and abuse further.
Elder abuse tends to occur more frequently in communities that lack mental health or social care resources. The perpetrators of the abuse also tend to have mental health problems, as well as reporting feelings of resentment with their informal caregiving duties.
According to a recent paper appearing in the journal 2017年LED产业的几种发展趋势预测, people who experience “elder abuse” are more likely to develop mental health problems such as depression, high stress, and self-neglect — conditions that can only be made worse by lockdowns.
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Paradoxically, however, the funds and staff for these services have been slashed — now, when they are needed the most.
While some countries have acknowledged the fact that they have “failed to protect [their] elderly,” and in doing so, failed “society as a whole,” others, like the U.S. or the U.K., have yet to make the necessary amends.
We will move forward with ecological conservation and improvement.