VANCOUVER -- Seniors have been some of the hardest hit by the novel coronavirus, and one B.C. researcher has tips on how to support that group during the public health crisis.

Nearly 80 per cent of the deaths connected to COVID-19 in Canada have been linked to long-term care homes, leading to tightened visiting regulations in those facilities. 

But for many residents, those restrictions can lead to increased loneliness and even anxiety and depression, according to one researcher at the University of British Columbia. 

Dr. Roger Wong, who is a clinical professor of geriatric medicine, says there are still ways to protect and socialize with seniors living in long-term care facilities, even during the outbreak. 

First of all, Wong doesn't necessarily recommend removing senior family members from their care home, even if it has an outbreak. Instead, in an interview conducted and shared by UBC, Wong suggests considering other unintended consequences of a move, like impacts to their physical and mental health. 

Instead, Wong says, it's important to protect seniors where they already are. 

"Remember, physical distancing … does not mean social isolation," he said in the interview posted to UBC's website.

"Use technology—a phone call, Skype, FaceTime or Zoom—to interact with family and friends. It's important to stay engaged because social isolation and loneliness can negatively impact our health."

Wong also said that, for the time being, physical distancing in the community and among caregivers should continue to be strongly enforced. 

"Going forward, we need to learn and act immediately in a health system approach, with new consistent policies for long-term care homes across the country that lay out best practices on outbreak prevention and control," he said.