Forced into isolation, many seniors are struggling with loneliness, anxiety

One of Portsmouth’s best-known elders, Harold Whitehouse, 85, said, “I’m lucky.”

He feels lucky because, while he rides out the coronavirus pandemic at his Portsmouth home, he can go onto his streetside deck and often someone will stop to ask how he’s doing, if he needs anything, or chat for a while. He said his neighbors Jamie and Amy Baker bring him their Portsmouth Herald every morning and recently delivered a pan of lasagna.

“They’re awfully nice people,” said Whitehouse. “If you keep watching television, they get you scared to death.”

Elders, many without computers or skills to use them, are feeling more isolated while quarantined during the pandemic.

“When you have nothing to do, you’re not motivated anymore,” said Shintaro “Sam” Asano, 85. “Small pains are amplified, then cause worry. They don’t know what to do with that anxiety.”

Inventor of the portable fax machine and a columnist, Asano two months ago opened a combination store and gathering place for people over age 60 to brainstorm ideas for aging happier and healthier. Not long after, everyone was warned to stay home, or at least six feet away from anyone else.

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