By Judith Graham, May 31, 2021 at 5:00 a.m. PDT
Alice Herb, 88, an intrepid New Yorker, is used to walking miles around Manhattan.
But after this year of being shut inside, trying to avoid covid-19, she has noticed a big difference in how she feels. “Physically, I’m out of shape,” she told me. “The other day, I took the subway for the first time, and I was out of breath climbing two flights of stairs to the street. That’s just not me.”
Emotionally, Herb, a retired lawyer and journalist, is hesitant about resuming activities even though she’s fully vaccinated. “You wonder: What if something happens?” she said. “Maybe I shouldn’t be doing that. Maybe that’s dangerous.”
Millions of older Americans are similarly struggling with physical, emotional and cognitive challenges following a year of being cooped up inside, stopping usual activities and seeing few, if any, people. If they don’t address issues that have arisen during the pandemic — muscle weakness, poor nutrition, disrupted sleep, anxiety, social isolation and more — these older adults face the prospect of poorer health and increased frailty, experts warn.