Miss human touch? Lexington chaplain says everyone does, especially seniors

Photo: WKYT/Darnell Crenshaw
Photo: WKYT/Darnell Crenshaw(WKYT)
Published: Apr. 30, 2020 at 5:41 PM EDT
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For some people, social distancing can lead to social isolation, but studies show people need social interaction for a healthy lifestyle.

A chaplain at Bluegrass Care Navigators has something to say about the effect that isolation may have on our overall health, especially to seniors.

Scarcely over a month ago hugging, handholding, handshakes, even a simple punch on the arm were standards of human interaction. Today, that has changed.

“We are going through withdrawal of that, and it's not easy. It's hard for most of us, even the introverts among us,” says Chaplain Munoz, with Bluegrass Hospice.

Munoz says the COVID-19 outbreak has made it harder to pray and comfort those who are in their final days of life.

“When you're praying, I can't hold hands,” she says. “I feel like I've got one hand tied behind my back. We are doing the best we can because we know it's safe, but it's very different.”

Chaplain Munoz believes the younger generation has adjusted well to this new norm because connecting through technology has always been a way of life.

Seniors, however, may be isolated even more because those visits from loved ones have stopped.

“It's also the physical distancing that's creating trauma for some people, and the lack of connection.”

Case in point, Munoz says an elderly woman's health was declining. Then her daughter's visits stopped.

“I am firmly convinced her soul and spirit knew her daughter loved her every day, and for some reason, she wasn't there, and that contributed to her demise. So, there are direct deaths related to COVID, and I think there are a number of indirect things related to COVID.”

Munoz says even though you can't be there physically, you can still be there in other ways.

“Whatever we can do through Zoom, or going to the window and knocking on the door and smiling – even chalk drawing – those things make a difference. I think COVID-19 has shown how we all need good, healing, healthy touch.”