The Weird, Wonderful Work of Pandemic Geropsychology

With His Elderly Patients Isolated by COVID, a Therapist Turned to Dr. Pepper, Music, and Cheez Doodles

On March 30, 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic rendered silent the vibrant skilled nursing community where I worked. All the doors were closed, with residents in solitary confinement in their rooms. Corridors, where days prior nurses bantered, became eerily quiescent. The chafing dishes in the café were empty. The bingo set in the lounge gathered dust.

The extraordinary circumstances of pandemic life had altered my role in the units, too. In normal times, my work as a geropsychologist—a mental health provider who specializes in treating older adult patients—involves conducting therapy sessions to …