Campbell has lived in the same one-bedroom apartment for more than 20 years. Last October was the first time he had seen a bedbug. For seniors like Campbell, who live alone and who have reduced mobility and other health challenges, getting rid of bedbugs can be a nearly impossible task. The many steps required to make sure pesticide treatments work effectively can be difficult to manage on their own. And if the bugs aren’t eradicated completely, repeated or prolonged infestations can have serious impacts on seniors’ physical and mental health.
Samuel Leite is the manager of community care at SPRINT Senior Care, a not-for-profit community support service agency that provides assistance to seniors living at home in Mount Pleasant West and surrounding neighbourhoods. He says that although bedbugs are not technically deemed a health hazard (the bites themselves are a nuisance, but not dangerous), as a social worker providing care to seniors, he has seen firsthand just how devastating an infestation can be. “Bedbugs carry a strong social stigma and can result in stress, anxiety, sleeplessness and further social isolation, all of which compromise the client’s health and wellbeing,” says Leite.
He has seen cases among his clients where the loss of sleep caused by bedbugs has led to severe mental distress and even physical pain. Clients with mental health issues become even more socially isolated when they have to deal with the added stigma of bedbugs, which means they may not make it to doctors’ appointments or may start avoiding going out at all.
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