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COVID's Toll On The Elderly: Many Are Left Homebound And Isolated

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - The coronavirus pandemic has taken a huge toll on the elderly, and not just those who suffered or died from COVID.

The lockdown and other safety measures means many seniors are homebound and isolated.

As CBS2's Andrea Grymes reports, Santos Macaya says his 78-year-old wife Rosemary used to love to travel and teach, but about seven years ago she started suffering from dementia.

"This is an incredible person, and now it's really like having another child," he said.

Rosemary started going to the New York Memory Center every day in Park Slope. The non-profit offers numerous daily programs and services to those with dementia and Alzheimer's disease.


"She would spend all our time inside the house. This came along, and it was a godsend. It truly was," he said.

But in March, the state forced centers like it and senior centers to close because of the pandemic and the high risk COVID poses on the elderly.

"Everything stopped, yes," said Josephine Brown, executive director of the New York Memory Center.

They went from a lively building pre-COVID to now only Zoom sessions.

Brown says since the center shut down, six of their members have died from various illnesses. She says they declined rapidly without the stimulation and services they were used to.

"It's not only us. Senior centers. Do you know how many seniors are suffering in their homes, you know they're isolated. They're depressed and they can't get all of these programs," she said.

For Rosemary, home with family, her husband says she became afraid to go outside.

He called into the mayor's radio show last week, asking for help to get the center reopened.

"It's vitally important. It's her only chance for socialization and stimulation," he said.

Brown believes city and state officials are doing the best they can navigating unchartered waters. She and many others just hope they can safely open their doors again soon.

Macaya says the mayor's team has offered several options for other services for his wife until the state deems it safe enough for these centers to reopen.


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