COVID-19 has impacted all of us. A year ago, everything shut down, seemingly without warning. Across the country, people had no choice but to stay in their homes and reduce contact with anyone except those they live with. This sudden shift has had a profound effect on the mental health of people all around the world, especially for the senior population.
COVID-19’s Effect on Senior Mental Health
Seniors have faced additional challenges during this difficult time. Many seniors rely on their families to care for them. More than that, they value the time they get to spend with their children and grandchildren. Suddenly, that support system and precious time with their loved ones were taken away. Even seniors who live in retirement communities, where they typically have access to social interaction with their friends and neighbors, may have been required to stay in their rooms with limited contact with peers and staff.
Now, whether you live in a state that’s still enforcing strict regulations or one that’s completely open, seniors are still facing some of these challenges. Senior care facilities may not have opened their doors to visitors. Even if visitors are allowed, family members may not want to risk visiting elderly parents or grandparents for fear of getting them sick.
Combined with the very real fear of getting sick, this social isolation and loneliness can be a great detriment to senior mental health.
Senior Mental Health Tips
If you’re experiencing stress and anxiety because of COVID, you’re not alone. The good news is there are some simple steps you can take to reduce the impact and improve your mental health. Here are a few options:
Find Ways to De-Stress
Take some you time! Get outside, practice mindfulness, or simply take a few deep breaths. Find activities that you enjoy that help take your mind off of the effects of the pandemic. De-stressing looks different for everyone. You might enjoy a movie night or practicing your favorite craft. Whatever the activity, taking time to do something you love can do wonders for your mental state.
Make the Most of Technology
When COVID hit the United States, everything seemed to “go virtual” overnight. Everything from weddings to exercise classes suddenly began taking place online over video chat. This ability to quickly adapt has been a big factor in coping with quarantine for many people.
Technology-savvy seniors can download video chatting services like Zoom to check in with family or friends—or, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can even join a Zoom class or social group to mix things up!
If you’re not confident using a laptop or tablet, there are simpler alternatives out there. Consider buying a video communication device for seniors. These devices are designed to be intuitive and easy-to-use. And if you need tech support, reach out to your grandkids—they likely know far more than your adult children do!
Pick Up the Phone
Technology can be a great solution to reduce loneliness, but it’s not your only option. If you’re looking for a simple conversation without worrying about internet access, pick up the phone and give someone a call. Reach out to your family members and friends. We’re all experience some degree of loneliness right now, so your friends are sure to appreciate the conversation.
Make Time for Socially Distant Visits
Social visits during a pandemic aren’t easy, but they are possible. If you want to see your family members or friends in person, reach out to them to schedule a visit. Just be sure to lay down some ground rules to ensure safety for everyone:
- Meet in a place where you can stay 6 feet apart. An outdoor spot, such as a park or a backyard, is ideal.
- If you can’t safely distance, or you have to meet inside, ensure everyone wears a mask.
Seniors who live in retirement homes may have some other considerations to take into account. Does your retirement home allow visitors right now? If so, do they need to schedule a specific time to come? Are there additional safety procedures in place that you and your visitors will need to adhere to?
Making Your Mental Health a Priority
At Briarwood, the physical and mental health of our residents is our first priority. The COVID-19 pandemic has put a lot of strain on seniors and their families. It’s a difficult reality to face, but taking some of these simple steps can help to reduce your stress level and manage your mental health.
Briarwood is an active senior living community with a fun atmosphere. Our residents are family, and we want them to feel safe. Are you considering the move to Briarwood? Don’t wait; join our priority list to secure your home in the Briarwood family.