The emergence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus at the beginning of this year fundamentally transformed the lives of people all over the world. For populations who are most vulnerable to the virus, such as older adults, the changes were and still are even more drastic, and the fear of acquiring the disease is even greater due to the exponential increase in mortality risk. Health care professionals have had to adapt the way they deliver care—creative approaches and technologies were implemented rapidly. Yet focus must not stray too far from long-standing health concerns, where the established standards of care are still effective. The articles in this issue balance these needs—how to adapt care practices to meet new challenges and also how to enhance care delivery for persistent health issues.
One of the hardest hit populations in this pandemic may be older persons with various dementias. The world around them is changing abruptly, and their minds are not always aware of the reasons for these changes. Just as important, though, is the health of the persons caring for these individuals: professional and family caregivers who have had to cope with the pandemic as well as with the pandemic responses of those in their care. In the “Diving Into Dementia” column, Joseph R Herrera, MSW, and colleagues urge health care professionals to educate caregivers and family members on how to manage their stress and anxiety during the COVID-19 health crisis, so that they can thrive in the “new normal.”
Increased safety measures have been put in place across all health care settings in response to COVID-19. It is important that these new strategies and protocols are not simply created and put in place but that they are also internalized and reinforced among staff and visitors. In this month’s “ECRI Strategies” column, Victor Lane Rose, MBA, NHA, FCPP, CPASRM, explains that establishing a culture of safety within an organization must go beyond superficial initiatives. He details how a safety culture encompasses attitudes and beliefs across the entire organization and outlines processes to ensure that this mindset pervades every area of the organization.
Finally, the feature articles in this issue bring our focus back to persistent health concerns such as anticoagulation management and diagnostic challenges in older adults with multiple comorbidities. Zainab Shahid, BS, and colleagues discuss the risks and benefits associated with anticoagulation in older patients with atrial fibrillation. Brittany A Oster, BS, and colleagues present a case of a 72-year-old nursing home resident who was being treated with steroids for giant cell arteritis and developed progressive altered mental status.