The COVID-19 pandemic has passed the one-year limit. And since last spring, seniors have faced a number of challenges.

This is the result of a recent survey by senior franchisee Senior Helpers.

The survey, released late last week, examines the feelings and behaviors of older adults 65 and older since the public health emergency began. It contains answers from 1,000 seniors.

According to Co-Founder and CEO Peter Ross, Senior Helpers connected to a large pool of seniors who did not include clients in compiling the survey.

“We wanted to better understand the impact of the pandemic on our biggest stakeholder, our seniors,” Ross told Home Health Care News. “We wanted to make sure we were providing the right level of service to meet the needs of seniors now and in the future.”

Maryland-based Senior Helpers is a home care franchise with over 320 locations worldwide.

A key finding from the survey was that 60% of seniors have felt less connected with family and friends since the public health emergency began.

While social distancing measures have kept seniors safe during the COVID-19 emergency, they likely contributed to loneliness as well – something that has been shown to have a negative impact on overall health.

In fact, some experts have even compared the body’s response to loneliness with Smoke 15 cigarettes a day.

In addition, the survey of elderly care workers found that 42% of seniors in 2020 had depression, anxiety, isolation, or other mental health issues.

The results reinforce the role of the home care industry as a socialization mediator, according to Ross.

“We’re in her home helping to fend off those feelings of isolation,” he said. “We have a camaraderie. We are in a relationship with this senior so you are not alone. I think this is really important, especially during a pandemic. ”

Ross recognized the importance of home care in the sales performance of senior helpers.

“Our sales performance during and after the pandemic was one of the highest increases senior helpers have ever seen,” he said. “In fact, it’s the highest in probably 10 or 15 years. People had to have someone there because family members couldn’t pass the time and family carers didn’t have access to their loved ones. “

For the majority of seniors, however, this period has helped reassert their sense of autonomy.

Around 88% of senior citizens consider themselves “just as, if not more, self-sufficient” compared to times before the pandemic.

One advantage for providers is that senior citizens mostly want to maintain their independence. These seniors are likely to be open to working with a caregiver at home rather than moving to a nursing home or long-term care facility.

Another key finding was that 45% of seniors used telemedicine in the past year.

“I’m sure telemedicine has grown 200%, 300%, or 400% from the pandemic – it’s been a lifesaver,” Ross said.

Even before the COVID-19 emergency, senior helpers introduced telehealth. The public health emergency has only accelerated the use of such technologies.

“We had to find a way to get seniors to their doctor visits, which we always did,” said Ross. “This opened the door to partners like Teladoc Health (Nasdaq: TDOC) where we could work with them to provide them with a vehicle for a telemedicine visit. We still made that possible. ”

Ross believes the industry will continue to see telehealth adoption.

“I think the use of telemedicine will increase significantly among the elderly and in general,” he said. “I think the pandemic only accelerated that. Now you see [the government] Find ways to incentivize both the providers and the actual families who receive care. “

Ross says it’s important for senior rescuers to stay one step ahead of the curve.

“We have always tried to see where things are going, not where we are,” he said. “I’ve spent a lot of time in industry groups … to understand the trade winds. Regardless of whether it is telemedicine or day care for adults, I have always looked for things that I saw as opportunities for senior helpers.