Mental Health and the Aged in the Era of COVID-19

13 Pages Posted: 12 Aug 2020

See all articles by Barbara Pfeffer Billauer

Barbara Pfeffer Billauer

Institute of World Politics; International Program in Bioethics, U. of Porto; Foundation for Law and Science Centers, Inc.

Date Written: August 9, 2020


Data collection and interpretation have falsely fingered "age" as an independent risk factor for CoVid Deaths. Yet, without controlling for contributing variables, such as race, sex, social status, and co-morbidities – these data present a flawed picture. While perhaps 80% of Corona deaths have, indeed, occurred in the elderly, similarly more than 80% of all deaths occur in this cohort and there is no showing the elderly are especially vulnerable to CoVid, than say flu. Nevertheless, policy decisions based on a perceived evaluation of the elderly as being especially vulnerable to CoVid resulted in lockdowns, social isolation, and denial of care. These responses in turn resulted in increased stress and elevated stress-related deaths, such as heart disease, both in the healthy and non-healthy elder communities. Those with dementia and Alzheimer’s especially suffered. Policies denying care, contact with loved ones, and even ventilators translated into treating this group as a disposable population, further rattling the mental health of the aged and their loved ones. As this death spiral increased, elders are just giving up hope – and dying in droves.

Policies designed to protect the elderly from dying of a physical disease inadvertently triggered unintended mental health effects in those otherwise healthy – and worsened the condition of those already suffering mental health-related diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer's. In this regard, the concept of Therapeutic Justice, as admirably explained by Professor Kathy Cerminara would find an important role.

Keywords: therapeutic justice, mental health, dementia, Alzheimer's, heart disease, stress, aging, aged, elder care, lockdown, ventilators, rationing, COVID, health care policy,

JEL Classification: I1, I12, I18, I14, K42, K23, K20

Suggested Citation

Billauer, Barbara P., Mental Health and the Aged in the Era of COVID-19 (August 9, 2020). Arizona State Law Journal, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: or

Barbara P. Billauer (Contact Author)

Institute of World Politics ( email )

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International Program in Bioethics, U. of Porto ( email )

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