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Older adults are still struggling with mental health issues 2 years into COVID-19

Rural older adults — people 65 and older — are still struggling with issues of isolation and loneliness nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic.

Older adults across Arizona have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Rural seniors are especially vulnerable to social isolation. Sunshine Dean is the vice president of business development at Spectrum Health Care Group. She says roughly two years later, things are not getting better.

“What we're seeing is a significant increase in the number of older adults who are calling, so people 65 and older, which accounted for more than 13% of the calls that we've done over the last year, which is far higher than it's been in the past. And that's concerning, we're also seeing a significant increase in alcohol abuse in that population,” she explained.

Dean says her organization is trying to look at innovative ways to connect with isolated seniors, including the use of technology.

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KJZZ senior field correspondent Kathy Ritchie has 20 years of experience reporting and writing stories for national and local media outlets — nearly a decade of it has been spent in public media.