COVID-19 and Older Adults: A BrightFocus Town Hall

hello welcome to the bright focus town hall on covet 19 and older adults thank you so much for joining us um my name is cecilia eridaza i’m a long time communications and marketing professional based here in washington dc i currently work for wondros a global strategic creative agency that’s focused on social impact and community engagement and i am a proud member of the board of directors of the bright focus foundation which is what brings us all here today um our hosts bright focus for this town hall is a nonprofit whose mission is to cure diseases of mind and sight by funding high-risk high-reward research for alzheimer’s macular degeneration and glaucoma the bright focus is also a community it’s a community of researchers and scientists families and caregivers all connected by a shared purpose so as we enter you know week 9 or week 10 of this you know social distancing reality that we’re in we’re all bearing witness to such astounding changes in almost every aspect of our lives and the most vulnerable vulnerable among us are at even greater risk for older americans the stakes are high so in these turbulent times um it really exposed a lot of of kind of the the vulnerabilities and some of the systematic flaws that are in our health and social frameworks and that’s what we’re going to be talking about this evening this is the first in a series of virtual town halls um that bright focus will be hosting and today joining me are scott kaiser former family physician geriatrician and the chief innovation officer for the motion picture and television fund this fund supports our entertainment community and living and aging well with dignity and purpose and in helping each other in times of need scott also serves in the on the bright focus board also joining scott and myself is art taylor art is the ceo of the better business bureau’s wife’s giving alliance art was a caregiver for his mother who passed away from alzheimer’s disease and his organization seeks to assist donors in making informed judgments about those that solicit their support we all come at this with very personal stories and and perfect in our professional lives and you’ll hear kind of these perspectives come to bear we have received so many great questions over the past few days so first things first thank you to all of you scott and art are at the ready to answer them and if you have additional questions please send them to us through direct message so let’s get right to it we have heard a number of comments you know an overwhelming number of comments that we we got is really about this feeling of confusion and helplessness as we all find ourselves not only distant but sometimes isolated from loved ones during these you know trying times in fact a recent harvard business review piece noted that this pandemic has not only made us feel out of this this loss but really all sorts of different types of griefs anticipatory griefs and one particularly troubling aspect is the open-endedness of this pandemic when is it ever going to end so we will start there we’ll dive right into the deep end um scott and then art what do you tell older adults and their families who are trying to find answers and clarity oh it’s a great question cecilia and it’s true it’s i mean it’s on its trying times it’s unprecedented uh what we’re going through and something that’s so disproportionately impacting older adults as a geriatrician it’s something i’m faced with uh directly in terms of talking with patients and families look it is there is a lot of uncertainty uh so we have to really stay focused on doing the things that we know we can do to keep ourselves safe and there’s a lot of good information out there to guide us on what we can do to keep ourselves safe and i’ll come back to that later through our discussion but at the same time there are also a lot of things that we know about living well and aging well under normal circumstances that continue to hold true in fact they’re probably more important than ever like the value of social connection the importance of having a sense of purpose the importance of managing chronic conditions

all these things are more critical than ever but with so much uncertainty there’s also so much information coming at us i was thinking about i saw dr dr anthony fauci on the show i i watch uh you know and he was just talking about all the information coming it’s like drinking from a fire hose i mean it’s just so much so much because we’re trying to learn this is a global pandemic so we’re trying to learn from what’s going on in other parts of the world and now other parts of the country and in our in other cities and it’s just a lot to keep up with but you know i think for individuals tuning in now you gotta look to those trusted resources for for high quality information right i mean you know if you go to the cdc website you’re gonna get information that’s been vetted and that’s a great place to start and there’s gonna be great reminders there of the things that you can uh do to keep yourself safe but then when i think about people in the bright focus kind of universe and family people with alzheimer’s disease and related dementias people with macular degeneration with glaucoma really the bright focus foundation is an incredible resource i mean you can go right onto the bright focus website and find articles at any time about how to best live with those conditions or how to best support someone if you’re the caregiver of someone living with those conditions but right now uh you can log right on and see about you know macular degeneration in covid 19 in the light of times of cobit 19 what do i do how do i respond how do i manage my condition what are best practices so really a great resource right at our fingertips and i encourage people to go to the website and check it out well you know i i think that’s a great response and what i would add to it is that as humans we tend to shy away from change and if there’s anything we know about the situation we’re currently in is that it’s different in that many of the customs and habits that we um are want to participate in and and do we’re having to put on hold we can’t do them and we have to begin thinking i think less about what we would be doing if it weren’t for the virus and the pandemic and the challenges associated with that and what we can be doing now that can also be fulfilling and enriching in our lives you know so much of this virus is harmful not only because of the health effects but because of the emotional effects associated with loss of one kind or another or the anxiety of not knowing when we will ever get back to the way things were but you know life is um full of surprises and i think that if we were to focus some on our current situation and find even within them things that can bring us joy and peace and comfort such as a phone call or a zoom chat or sitting down and reading a book that maybe we put off for a long time or engaging in something less technical or something more humanistic then i think we begin to develop new habits going out if you can safely to take a walk um things that you were planning to do but you’ve been putting off because you’ve had other alternatives that you don’t currently have i think all of these things can help us as human beings cope with the sense of loss and i think the number one thing that seniors and everyone have to do right now is avoid getting the coronavirus and we have to make sure that we are putting into place all of the habits and precautions possible to make sure that we don’t get the disease you know that’s a really good point you know first things first is is safety first in your health first um what’s really concerning one of the the stats that i as i was preparing for this this conversation today um i saw from the university of chicago that 55 of american 70 plus have delayed medical care due to the pandemic i live with my mother she’s in her early 80s and i know for sure she’s delayed some of her kind of more preventative medical care um you know visits to the doctor some of the the

things that you could push back so scott from a geriatrician’s perspective how do pre-existing conditions like alzheimer’s macular degeneration and glaucoma increase someone’s risk for coronavirus and its associated complications right i mean well there there’s serve a couple questions there and starting with what you just commented on absolutely we know that underlying chronic conditions and age are significant risk factors for becoming infected and suffering the most severe consequences from the coronavirus so uh this is very uh disturbing uh we need to keep an eye on how we are really protecting ourselves if we’re living with chronic conditions and the conditions you listed fit in that category now in terms of managing those conditions we also have to as art said number one we have to not get infected with coronavirus that’s our first priority but we have to be able to do both we have to also continue to manage our chronic conditions so look anybody who’s tuning into this should be able to access tele health services right and if you’re tuning in and somebody in your life is living with chronic conditions and they can’t help them because right now there is a whole telehealth revolution occurring and we want to make sure that everybody is included in that that nobody gets left behind so you still have ample opportunity to be able to reach out and connect with health care professionals through telehealth services and i really encourage people to take advantage of that i think people are going to really find that it’s a great way to get care you can get connected with expert care and i think people will actually want to bring that practice into the new normal then there are certain conditions that cannot be managed by a telehealth so for example if you have macular degeneration and you need to get injections uh into your eye as part of the treatment for that there is good evidence that suggests that you do not want to significantly delay those injections you need to continue those or you risk loss of sight so to be able to continue those that’s really incumbent upon the health care system to better organize and there’s a lot of efforts underway and we need to support these in our local health systems and and across the country we need to support efforts for health care providers to prepare to treat these things that sometimes we’ve been having to delay if they’re not immediately urgently necessary and that means medical practices that don’t necessarily look the way they look before simple things like perhaps when you’re waiting for your appointment you might be waiting in your car and then you get a message that it’s time to come in so that you can come in when you get into the office perhaps everybody’s wearing masks and you’re asked to wear a mask and people are asked to wash their hands frequently because coming back to what art said about we can’t get the chronic virus we all have to wash our hands a lot more and that’s something we should continue from now on forever we should all be washing our hands more with warm soap and water for at least 20 seconds right so you go to the doctor it might be a different experience but we have to get that care a lot has to happen on the back end there has to be testing in place uh there’s testing of staff to make sure that they can safely provide the care and there’s testing of patients say a patient needs a surgical procedure that’s has not been emergent and has been delayed uh testing of patients before they go in uh to the operating room so this is really a lot to handle uh but people are working hard every day to make this possible it’s really our ingenuity at its best and we all have to band together to make sure that we keep taking care of ourselves and keep delivering great care you know you raise two very important points of like making sure we include everyone as we we put put in place preventative measures it’s really amazing to see the telehealth revolution happening you know these are some of the things that were seemingly aspirational um what’s also really interesting is that we are consuming health data in ways that we’ve never done before every single day we look at data and kind of health outcomes um and trying to apply that to our lives and and one of the things that has this data is telling us stories that you know may have always been there but are now really coming to light in very stark terms art i’d love to turn to you as we as we look at just the disproportionate burden of illness and death among racial and ethnic minority groups due to

covet um i wanted to also quote dr fauci who we’ve already quoted earlier you know his his point was very poignant when he said this crisis is shining a bright light on how unacceptable it is because yet again it’s it’s not new when you have a situation like the coronavirus african americans especially are suffering really disproportionately yeah um it’s alarming and yet we also know that many people have been tracking for some time now what are known as the social determinants of health for many years we would just look at um people for their illness and just assume that um it was the disease that might have been attacking them disproportionately or the malady was attacking them disproportionately and then we came to realize that there are social factors that weigh into the extent to which people are at higher risk of contracting a disease or maybe even suffering and dying from it and clearly that is the case here what we’re seeing with african americans and people of color and elderly and to some extent in this in this case although the social determinants may have less to do with elderly but the the problem is that people who live in predominantly poorer conditions and conditions that bring less services and less opportunities for health care are going to be affected by any number of diseases at higher incidence and it won’t be until society comes to grips with that until we come to grips with the fact that human life is actually worth something regardless of where people come from it’s not about how much money a person has it should be about the value of a human life it won’t be until then that we’re willing to deal with some of these social issues that are dragging on the health care of people of color and so um coronavirus as dr falchi points out is shining a bright light on the disparities that um these social determinants drive in terms of the the safety and health of people in minority communities particularly those in poor minority communities and again we have to work as a society to remedy this and it’s bigger than the health care system although the health care system is a major piece but it’s bigger than a health care system it’s it’s going to take bigger pieces of of our collective efforts uh to really resolve you know that’s it’s so inc it’s like we’ve never been more physically distant from each other and yet we’ve never been at a time with worse when the interconnectedness of things is upon us right it’s the merging of our for those who are able to work from home you’re working from home and taking care of both children and and parents it’s it’s all coming together and the shared experience brings us all you know allows us to connect with each other in ways that that we really didn’t have before and now it’s a matter of how do you kind of take that and build on that momentum and and direct that energy um positively and and to that point you know we’ve we’ve been hearing demands for programs like meals and wheels have doubled um locally in dc uh we we got a com you know we know about organizations like the smith center for healing and the arts creating a really robust virtual program that they haven’t done in the past um so we’re getting a number of questions about the need for community support systems where can older americans and their families turn to for assistance and for those who are also seeking for for ways to help where can they go and and what can they do it’s for both yeah well i’ll start out and just say that um the need for support for the elderly and those who are less served has is probably at an all-time high at this point the unemployment rate is um probably triple or quadruple what we’re used to seeing um and that doesn’t account for people who of course were never part of the labor force to begin with people are losing income they’re losing livelihoods

food banks as you mentioned are taxed and even government hasn’t been able to meet the needs of people right now and we’re hopeful of course that government will continue to to be supportive and continue to find ways to help folk but charities certainly have a role to play and but i want people to understand that charitable organizations depend on the generosity of individuals and we’ve seen over the last 15 years a steady decline in the number of people who donate to charitable organizations it’s probably dropped about 12 to 15 percent over the last 15 years and so clearly um people are deciding at some level that there are other ways of helping rather than through charitable organizations and i think there is a risk associated with that but also an opportunity if you’re of a mind of a person who decided that you know maybe a charitable gift isn’t for me um think for a minute about where some people would be if it weren’t for a food bank think about where people would be if it weren’t for the help of frontline people who work in hospitals many of them non-profit think of where society would be and you can probably see some of that now because we don’t have the services of places like ymcas or um youth serving entities or even some elderly care places that have had to close because of this pandemic look at the habit these things are causing on our society so if you take these things for granted in good times maybe now you’ll get to see the pure value of them given that we don’t have access to them and i hope that today people will reconsider the significance of making a charitable donation to an organized charity and we’ve posted numerous organizations on our website where people can go and find vetted organizations that are out there fighting every day to help people and i’ll tell you many of these organizations are struggling because of the way they go about raising money in a lot of cases they depend on events physical events whether that be a fundraising dinner a golf tournament or a concert or some other way of raising money through getting people together they can’t do that now and therefore they’re going to need people to forego the event and still give them money so they can do the work that needs to be done to help our people yeah if i could jump in here for a second art you made so many great points and i actually i’d like to go back uh to the initial questions about uh health disparities and health inequities but but before since you mentioned fundraising and the need to support these organizations i mean trusted organizations like brightfocus foundation i know at mptf we are we have so much uh that we have to do on the front lines on the back lines on the sidelines i mean there’s just a lot of work that needs to be done we have a nursing home we have social workers we have programs targeting isolation out in the community helping people get meals i mean there’s just a lot of work to be done personal protective equipment is expensive and it’s more expensive than ever we need testing and testing is expensive i mean there’s just a long long list so i encourage people yes to support trusted organizations and you can even go to uh this friday night we are having a virtual uh a telethon style entertaining incredible program which i encourage everybody to check out all the stars will be coming out and again it’s it’s these kinds of opportunities to support great organizations doing great things so go to our website to check that out look coronavirus and our experience of this global pandemic have been just this massive amplifier this magnifying glass uh structural issues in our health care system exposed shortcomings a limited um lack of investment in public health infrastructure exposed health inequities and health

disparities amplified social disconnection which we were already in a loneliness and social isolation epidemic as it were before all of this and now just amplified so all of these things magnified and we could go on about how alarming it is when you really dig into the data and see these health inequities reflected in terms of who is getting sick with coronavirus and who is uh dying as a result of this virus and it’s it’s very disturbing and there are so many social determinant of health factors as art said that go into it um but there are broader factors even beyond that that we’re only beginning to understand but now is the time to support organizations that are doing that work to understand what is behind that and that’s about rallying behind our scientific community who are trying to figure out not just cures not just vaccines we need all of that but also the whole picture of how we can best uh get through situations together best manage conditions it all translates what we’re experiencing now the needs it’s it as i said an amplification of magnification of of what’s going on all the time and that’s why scientists are heroes as well just like so many other heroes right now and we need to support them you know you both raise really important points um especially in times of like the coronavirus needs are amplified they’re they’re urgent um they’re urgent unlike any kind of urgency we’ve ever seen before but that doesn’t mean it’s not an either or for all these other diseases and other factors that are in our lives and i think that level of recognition of you know life needs to continue to move forward we need to to continue to seek out that sense of purpose that drives us and and allow us to keep on moving moving and and finding kind of that sense of of self um and not getting lost whether it’s it’s you know as we we get inundated with all the information that we’re we’re absorbing um all of the experiences that that we know are so true and yet so daunting you know how do we cope cope with all of these um in real time and and what are some of these mechanisms that allow us to continue to to keep on moving forward and and you know how do we where do we find that energy that’s uh i wanted to have a follow-up question you know one of the things that we should think about is finding ways to feel empowered because what this disease and our circumstances can do to us is make us feel powerless and one of the things i do that makes me feel empowered is i think about people who are less well-off than i am and i try to do something for them and this is something anyone can do regardless of your circumstance you can take something you have whether that be um something material or a piece of advice just a phone call you make to someone maybe you send them a text or an email telling them you care about them that you love them and you’d be surprised how you will feel after you’ve done that and this is all again the reason why donating to charity is so important many times not so much what the charity gets and does although we hope they use the money appropriately and many do most do but it’s what you get from it you get a feeling of empowerment and a feeling of accomplishment because you’ve taken something to give away to someone else who has less than you and i just think that um this is a way of coping you ask the question what do we do to cope we take control of our situation to the best that we can and even if we have less than we’ve ever had before because we resolve this virus and if we can give something away whether it’s a piece of advice whether it be a piece of some money something material i am sure that most people will feel better about themselves in their situation when they think of someone who has less than they do yeah i mean i think that’s a great point right that if we think about the things that help us live well in age well we have gained 30 years in life expectancy over the last century which is unprecedented in human history and even though we’re seeing tremendous loss of life now and we are in an alarming situation where we have to change so many practices

and we need to really figure out a way to defeat this virus the same elements we will still enjoy even this this will pass and we will still enjoy this new longevity and what are the factors that help us live well and age well and really a sense of connection so connecting with your community that’s always important it’s just more important now and we have to be a little more creative about how we do it that’s how we have to use the telephone we have to use these video conferencing solutions to be able to connect and again that’s calling somebody that’s having an older relative older neighbor uh who you don’t think is is getting as much contact as you would as you would like give them a call call your call your mother call your grandmother right i mean call everybody and stay connected uh then what else helps us really age well and thrive well having a sense of purpose and with that generosity we know that generosity is protective it’s actually something as art was just perfectly explaining that’s so good for your health so give right i mean this is a time to connect with trusted resources so that you can be part of that community and step up to support because this is where we really a make or break moment where we band together this is our america humanity at our greatest really stepping up to uh do the right thing and that means the right thing means you know supporting good scientific research to make sure that we are uh doing things in a smart way uh that means uh supporting public health so that we can get out and understand what’s going on right that means really stepping up uh to create wise paths forward so that we can not only get through this but really build back better together i love that and and thank you to both of you because you know we’re seeing behaviors change right now and it is pretty remarkable the resilience that we see in families and communities in each person as we look to to our own mechanisms for coping right um but back to data there’s another nork data that found north study that found 72 percent of americans 70 plus are spending more time on hobbies and activities um to combat isolation 61 are watching more tv and in that like absorption of information and and the ability to kind of sit still and just take it all in we’ve never had that that luxury and that opportunity in the past so what do we do with it um and and specifically for boomers there’s definitely been a surge of online interest right like we’re seeing 138 surge in online recipes and you know 174 surge in career planning and this is career planning for boomers so it’s encore career you see master classes it is now available at our fingertips so with all of this now kind of like as we go into the virtual world we also at the same time are constantly balancing the information about reopening faced approach what does that mean what needs to be in place and i’m just looking at all the different comments that are coming in and people want to know can their when when can they be when can they visit their families again are they going to be able to hug their grandchildren in the next month or two will they need to wear masks in in the presence of their own families can they visit um when when is the next time people can can visit um nursing homes these are you know kind of it goes we’re going back to basics that that human connection that is so critical for families and people are searching for answers so any advice you both can give on this any perspectives i’ll let i’ll let scott comment on this one because i think it is really about the science and and the what the data says about our safety so i’m going to let you comment i may have some comments after yeah i mean i’ll i think i’ll start with the more sobering reality and then dig into the more uh uplifting side of it uh i don’t foresee particularly i’m dealing with older patients and older patients with multiple chronic conditions and the programs i’m involved with are targeting uh older people it i don’t foresee any time in the immediate future that people will not be at heightened risk you know a lot this is a rapidly

changing dynamic situation so it’s hard to know if things might take a turn but current course and speed if we look at the way things are now the virus is still circulating in fact it may even be mutating into more virulent stronger forms right we don’t necessarily have all of the things in place that we would need to be able to start circulating more safely within a livable level of risk right it all comes back to what art said in the beginning we’ve got to figure out a way that we’re not going to get this virus right and we got to figure out how to not get it and not pass it to other people so right now um that’s going to mean wearing a mask that’s going to mean physical distancing and i think physical distancing and social distancing don’t necessarily need to be the same thing i’ll come back to that but keeping six feet apart and avoiding that prolonged face to face contact so that we’re not sharing our droplets with somebody else being mindful of what we touch and then washing our hands frequently hand sanitizer is okay but nothing beats soap and water warm soap and water for at least 20 seconds right washing our hands frequently we’re gonna need to keep doing those things so how when will we be able to to relax well on the one hand of course if there are vaccines uh that will be a game changer but vaccines are very hard to develop uh thank goodness people the the brightest minds all around the world are hard at work trying to figure this out and there are already many promising trials underway but it’s very challenging to develop a vaccine and it’s not something that can just be done in an instant it’s going to take quite a while for that so if we didn’t have a vaccine what else might get us to a point where we had a more livable level of risk well uh reasonable treatments so that if you get it and you become infected and you can be quickly identified and you can be treated and recover without much harm that would be that would also change things dramatically but again for people with underlying con conditions in a virus that seems to impact every organ system and and we keep finding new reports of you know are there associations with uh covet related strokes um heart disease uh every organ system kidney failure obviously the respiratory problems so that even if there are reasonable treatments that doesn’t mean that everybody would just get off kind of scot-free and be okay so reasonable treatments then the other things that will really change the landscape are if we have access to testing that’s robust where people can get tested frequently so we can quickly identify cases uh and be able to quarantine those individuals and get treatment for those individuals and that also is something that is not easy it’s not just necessarily widely readily available there are still false negatives it’s not a simple simple snap your fingers kind of thing so so that’s just the reality so when i was advising my patients who were over the age of 65 and had chronic conditions to avoid unnecessary travel to avoid large crowds to stay home as much as possible to be mindful of who they came into contact i was giving that advice before the stay at home orders because that was the prudent thing to do for them was to prepare and be mindful in that way and i anticipate that that will extend uh for quite some time for this most at-risk population so we are going to have to really adjust it’s not just okay snap a finger reopen the economy uh we do need to get people back to work we do need to get the economy back going but for many of us we’re gonna have to be on high alert and and doing things very differently for a long time so i’ll toss it back to art and then as i said i can come back to the more hopeful side of it because i do think that we can adjust and come back stronger yeah i just think that we’re just going to have to adapt and as i said before human beings are not comfortable with change but we can adapt and the things that we do today uh we probably would never have thought about doing 10 15 years ago maybe even five years ago we can adapt and we just have to look

forward rather than backwards and so if it means we’re gonna have to wear masks we’re gonna have to adjust to it it’ll be uncomfortable for a while i bet a lot of people who are watching today remember life before 9 11 when you could walk up to an airport just before a flight took off with very little security get on a plane go where you had to go get off the plane have family meeting you there when you arrived and um that was the norm and look at where we are today i remember the first weeks flying after the tragedy after the terrorist attack and there were lines literally around the airport trying to get on an airplane because we didn’t have these security systems in place at enough capacity to handle the traffic and so it took hours just to get on an airplane but we hated it and then we adapted and now it’s second nature to get on an airplane after uh going through security and we even got better at it we came up with new systems that made it easier for us to traverse through an airline circumstance so there will be changes that we have to go through and as we go through these changes human ingenuity will make it easier for us to deal with those changes we just have to give it time and we have to give it the ability give ourselves the ability to to get accustomed to these things and then they’ll become life as normal um but we have to look forward life after covet 19 will be very different than life before and the last thing i’ll say on this is we don’t have to be passive actors in the creation of the future the future is how we make it and we all can be actors in some way in shaping that future and again i i don’t believe that we control everything as human beings um some things may be serendipitous and if you’re a faith person maybe some things are just preordained by by god but um there are some things that we can control and doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try it doesn’t mean we don’t have agency in what happens next in our lives so i would encourage people to take a look down the road rather than considering what happened before what happened before is nice what happens before it gives us room to reminisce and to think about a world but it doesn’t exist anymore we have to think forward no matter how old you are at how young you are you have to live with one foot in the present and one foot in the future and i think it’s that future that gives us hope and it’s the hope that enables us to get through the most difficult circumstances i couldn’t agree more i mean look change is hard but we can adapt and we will adapt and i think about issues that have been impacted so profoundly by the coronavirus like social isolation and the fact of the matter is we created a program at mptf where we have volunteers who call people mostly seniors who are isolated and lonely for that life-saving connection it really is social connection really is life-saving and the fact of the matter is before all of this there were people older people who might go days weeks without talking to another person who are isolated and feeling that pain of that isolation and we had a program that was doing something reasonable about that but now we have volunteers coming out of the woodwork everybody’s stepping up to do something everybody can empathize and recognize this situation we all know what isolation can feel like now and now we can do something about it so i want us to adapt i don’t want to go back to normal i don’t want to go back to a world where people are lonely and isolated in the shadows i want to go back and forward go forward into a world where we work to to keep each other connected and we can do that and that’s how we can build back better and stronger and that’s just one example we were neglecting the needs of the scientific community underfunded underappreciated underinvested now is the time that we can look at scientists as heroes and we can support them and we can join hand in hand to find cures

cures in mind cures in sight to to for a better future so there are just countless ways that we have to seize this moment to step up to help each other now and to really think about a brighter future for tomorrow that we can build together you know this is incredible because as we what i’m hearing you say is it’s really this is active role that we’re playing going back to the the empowerment that we all need to feel to be able to shape not just the new normal i have i’d love every time i see that i cringe it’s really the next normal it’s not it’s this continuous cycle and this phase the faces that that are upon us that we just have to adapt to and and figure out as we go um and i think this to your point scott it’s now there’s the levels of empathy that i think people are able to feel the interconnectedness that are even stronger than ever and i think um art you mentioned this before like the the vulnerabilities in our system and our communities are now we’ve they’re now they’ve now come to light they’re not invisible anymore and so it is upon us to take on that role to to actively be part of the solution and whatever that might look like and um scott to your point about science really taking center stage there has never been a time where we are turning to our scientists who are too often locked in in a lab you know not just looking for that next big breakthrough now they’re they’re science is hope whenever we talk about researchers hope it could not be more true than than it is um today we are looking i know we’re wrapping up on time but i wanted to go to a number of questions that we’ve gotten about caregiving um just to set the context a little bit you know we we’ve heard the numbers and the the impact on nursing homes you know there are 1.4 million americans living in 15 600 nursing homes all across the country and it’s also important to consider that 83 of caregiving in the us comes from family members so with this you know how do we care for the caregivers both are healthcare professionals um as well as um family members and and friends who are stepping up to really kind of fill this void and and delivering the kind of care that that people need right now love to get your perspectives on both so i start um just by saying we should thank them you know thank you two very powerful words that we should say to people who are literally putting themselves at risk risking their lives to take care of other people we should say thank them then beyond that and this is beyond even the coronavirus uh challenge we’re having is that our system of supporting people who need care like that needs to be i think radically changed um we had to care for my mother before she passed away from alzheimer’s and um there were very few you know resources that you could access very easily to help i mean if you’re working full-time and you have a parent who basically needs around-the-clock support there’s there’s very little in the way of help that you can get unless you’re you know super wealthy to deal with that and many of us are reluctant to put our family members in nursing homes or things of that nature because maybe we’ve heard some bad stories or maybe we can’t be comfortable with any of the facilities in our area um but you know right now we don’t really care to serve these people who have basically raised and cared for us for for decades we tend to just want to house them and put them away somewhere take all of their money that they may have earned throughout their lives and just say to them you’re on your own and i just think that has to change it’s something that we as a society have to look at very differently and again covet i think has created a crescendo of attention on on this issue and mainly because even though the people who thought they

were doing right by their loved ones by putting them into a nursing home have found in some cases that this virus has created added vulnerability that they could never have anticipated and so we have to i think and remember that we’re all in this together and that no one can really escape something of this magnitude and i’m hoping that as a result of this we’ll all come together and say you know the way some people are being treated at the end of their lives is simply unacceptable for society like we have here in the united states yeah i mean that’s right right couldn’t agree more with art i mean thank you to caregivers and and really hats off and and uh all the respect in the world to family caregivers that go through so much and are juggling so much under normal circumstances but now juggling more than ever and and carrying such the the burden but look this is you know bright focus foundation we’re supporting research in alzheimer’s disease macular degeneration glaucoma these are conditions that are age associated that have impact older people and even under normal circumstances people can sort of look the other way and and be dismissive and you’re seeing it in the press you’re seeing it at policy levels about reopening the economy oh well it’s impacting older people or it’s impacting minorities disproportionately so that’s not okay we the reason we are banding together and working so hard to find cures to these conditions is because hey they’re impacting people that we will all become hopefully we all should hope to become an older person and secondly because we’re not dismissing neglecting setting aside older people we’re celebrating revering and caring for older people who as art said gave us so much i mean i’m sure that art when you were faced with the responsibility of caring for your mother it was obvious there was no hesitation because she cared for you and we need to just keep tapping into that and replicating that and really revere and celebrate uh the older people who’ve given us everything we have and give back to them um so if if this again can be a moment as as hart said a crescendo moment that can enable us to rethink our priorities i say let’s go fully in that direction and there’s no alternative from my point of view dear hair um and i’m sure i could feel my mother nodding vehemently right now she’s she’s in the next room um so thank you to everyone who’s who sends us questions i want to wrap this up with a a series of rapid fire questions for both art and scott um so first things first what’s the one behavior or habit that you’d change post pandemic i i would hug people even more than i do right now tell them that i love them absolutely i i’m with art there i mean uh look i i definitely uh it’s not i’m trying to call people and tell them i love them and and get on zoom but i definitely uh look forward to to getting out and circulating and hugging people i’m a hugger so you know just people it just is the way it is but so so i i’m definitely uh craving that kind of uh connection real connection at the same time in terms of changing behavior uh i definitely think i’m going to rethink a lot of my travel definitely avoid a lot of unnecessary travel because it’s not the as good for some things but zoom and all these platforms work perfectly well there’s certainly a lot of meetings where i probably didn’t need to go you know um all the way across the country or something and there’s a lot of traffic in la where i am that could be a little less if if we all stayed home a little more so so i’m gonna i i was always an outgoing person an extrovert but i think i’m gonna be a little more of a homebody uh even maybe even a little bit of a shut-in but you know i’m staying home what um i what do you do to stay active oh wow right now okay um as i might have mentioned to you in one of our previous setup calls um we’re fortunate that we live in a suburb here in southern maryland and around us there are a number of really beautiful hiking trails that are very low density

in terms of population and so we like to take six seven mile hikes into the woods and they’re so refreshing to just walk up in the woods any time of year whether it’s cold or hot and just take a walk for a couple of hours you know and so we do that we also just like to do now we’re doing virtual events but we we like to garden here at home so we will get out in the yard and put our hands in the dirt and plant things and then sit back and look at how beautiful uh our yard is because uh we took something of nature and and uh added some some man-made elements to it or man and woman made elements to it um so i would say those are the two things um we um just enjoy very simple things um where we like to cook and so we you know prepare our meals together and uh enjoy them so you know a lot of the simple things that you can sometimes get away from particularly when you have to commute back and forth to an office or to a workplace now you don’t have to do that so you have more time to take advantage of things like that yeah i i also enjoy just getting out walking and just so appreciative that uh there’s the space to do that and and i’m trying to encourage patients when they can find a safe place uh to walk to get outside to get that fresh air and of course just stay a six feet away from others and wear wear the masks but as art had said earlier we adjust so bike rides walks i’m really enjoying those more than ever and and you know when it’s really a nice moment to just stop and savor the simple things and uh i’m really enjoying that time with my family uh out out about walking and and being together and my final question i know we’ve touched on some of this but if you can you know boil it down to really it’s sound by what what do you do to stay healthy hopeful well you know there there are lots of um things that draw us to them and for me one of them is music i am very musically oriented and so um the great thing about music is there’s so many different genres uh they can um change your mood really depending on the type of song or piece you listen to so everything from classical to jazz to r b to um country um to um um nouveau soul i mean there’s there’s so much music out there that you can enjoy and will change sort of your your attitude about life in a particular instant uh i think the other thing is to spend some time with with other people and just talk about how you’re feeling i think you know um we can be very reluctant from time to time just to share with people how we’re feeling at a particular moment and i just think that having those kinds of conversations are really important yeah i would agree i mean i think look i’m a naturally optimistic person but to stay hopeful now i’m really just trying to lean in roll up my sleeves i’ve seen it on all ends here i’ve i’ve lost loved ones seen people i cared for uh die as a result of covid19 and it just motivates me only more to work harder to get through this together and then as i’ve said repeatedly throughout this there’s just so many things that this is putting a spotlight on that we could do better and so that just keeps me really hopeful and motivated to just uh get in there keep working i’m seeing collaboration like i’ve never seen before and and that’s what we need more of working together putting differences aside mission driven work together to do the right thing and so that keeps me very hopeful that’s a great note to end on thank you art thank you scott um thank you to all of you for joining us this evening we hope you found this conversation meaningful i think if there’s one thing that i got out of it it’s really that we we can take this active role and and be empowered to shape that next that next normal and that looks differently for all of us um and yet we have this shared experience now that can propel us

forward together um so we again thank you this town hall is a first in a series that the bright focus foundation is organizing a video and a transcript will be available online at along with a whole lot of really great advice and tools that are informative and practical um relating to diseases of mind and sight and and really many of the of the things we talked about today so again thank you on behalf of bright focus foundation i’m cecilia eridaza signing off thanks thanks so much what a pleasure