case studies, COVID-19 pandemic, interventions, loneliness, long-term care, quality care, risk factors, social distancing, social isolation, telehealth



  1. Harden, Karen DNP, AOCNS
  2. Price, Deborah M. DNP
  3. Mason, Heidi DNP, ACNP-BC
  4. Bigelow, April PhD, AGPCNP-BC, ACHPN


In the midst of COVID-19, the nation has become increasingly aware of the impact of social isolation on physical, social, spiritual, and psychological health. Older adults, especially those who are nearing the end of life, are already at higher risk of the detrimental effects of social isolation and loneliness. Novel social distancing rules imposed by governments and agencies during the COVID-19 pandemic have caused older adults to experience a degree of social isolation and loneliness that is unprecedented. This article highlights aspects of the social isolation and loneliness literature. Three cases of elderly patients who required medical care during the COVID-19 pandemic are presented. Common themes of factors contributing to social isolation in each of the health care delivery settings are described, and opportunities for creative interventions by health care providers are identified. As the pandemic continues to unfold and evolve, providers should aim to regularly assess patient risk of isolation and be proactive in preventing negative effects. Additionally, what is learned from health care providers' experiences delivering palliative care during a pandemic can be incorporated into daily practice as social isolation and loneliness are long-standing challenges for the elderly population.