Mental Health for Seniors During COVID-19

June 8, 2020 | Caregiver Stories, Caregiver Support Initiative, Community Foundation of Western Nevada, Featured

The COVID-19 outbreak has caused uncertainty, fear, and anxiety for a lot of people, which can be detrimental to anyone’s mental health. Now that we are going slowly transitioning back to our new norm with most going back to their regular schedule, there are still residual events from having experienced the world in a pandemic – anxiety, depression, stress over finances, unemployment and re-engaging with the world are some of the issues we will still be dealing with after the pandemic. Going through a pandemic is traumatic enough for all of us.

For seniors, it can be twice as harmful as majority of them have already been isolated before the pandemic.

With news of outbreaks in senior homes, facilities have taken extra steps in keeping the safety of seniors. Facilities have stopped allowing family and friends to visit as a precaution. Instead, they encourage for virtual visits through Facetime, Skype, and through other social media platforms.  

With this barrier put in place, it may be an even more detrimental time for seniors.

Seniors are the most vulnerable population of COVID-19. For caregivers, their main priority is the safety of the person they are taking care of but taking care of their mental health is also an important topic to be discussed. Helping seniors maintain their overall health is vital.

As a caregiver, the person you are taking care of most likely spends a good amount of time with you. Being their companion can fill in the gap of physical socialization they have been cut off from for the time being. Talking about family, their life story, asking about their opinion on certain things such as current events can help them feel like they are cared for and connected with people other than family and friends.

Making the most out of the situation by adding a bit of fun for the person you are taking care of can also add a lot of positivity to their day. Activities such as creating art, writing and drawing, or even practicing mindfulness can be relaxing and mentally stimulating.  Other simple activities such as taking a quick walk outdoors can also be an activity shared with the person you are taking care of – this can also help them re-engage with the world simply by seeing their outside environment, which can help make them feel less isolated.

These unprecedented times do not have to be a difficult time for seniors. By making their mental health also a priority, they can thrive better during these times.

For more resources for seniors, please visit: https://washoecaregivers.org/covid-19/.

If you would like to connect with other family caregivers to share advice, or ask questions on caregiving-related topics, please join our email discussion group and sign up here: https://washoecaregivers.org/connect/.     

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