The Covid-19 pandemic has affected the global population in more ways than one. Those who got infected have different reactions. The effect can be as normal as a regular cough and colds for some. Others don’t even manifest any symptoms. But it can also be lethal especially to those who have underlying illnesses. The chance of getting severe illness from the viruses increases with age. This means seniors are more at risk if infected. Thus, in order to flatten the curve, many countries resorted to protecting the vulnerable especially the seniors by keeping them in isolation. Although such tactic is effective, it leads to a devastating effect on the mental health of seniors. Studies indicate that social isolation of more than 10 days can lead to depression and anxiety. But this can be prevented through the help of family and close friends. it is important to learn how to help the elderly cope up with the pandemic to ensure that they remain mentally and emotionally healthy during this time.
Putting seniors in isolation increases loneliness. Loneliness in turn can lead to physical and mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, dementia, high blood pressure and other health risks. In order to prevent this, the first step is to know if your elders are suffering from loneliness. Symptoms include:
- Loss of interest in hobbies
- Feeling always tired
- Unexplained aches and pains on body
- Tendency to binge-watch
- Sleep problems
- Spending too much time on social media
- Gaining weight
What You Can Do To Help Seniors Cope Up with the Pandemic
If you are seeing these symptoms, it’s a definite sign that the pandemic is already affecting the elder’s mental health. Here are some ways on how you can help the elderly cope up with the pandemic.
1. Teach Seniors to Use Technology
It’s never too late to learn something new. Technology is the key to living in the new normal. Their life will improve immensely if they can discover the world of technology. In order to teach them the use of technology, do remember to be patient. Explain the value of technology and what it has to offer. Do bear in mind that most words that are common to us like internet, wifi, app, facebook, facetime, twitter, youtube, skype and all similar words do not mean anything to them. So you have to take it slow. Avoid information overload. Don’t be too harsh if they cannot get it the first time. Again, the key here is patience.
2.Take Them to Adventures Online
Once you feel that they are already familiar and comfortable using their gadget, send them to online adventures. Teach them how to discover videos, how to keep in touch with friends, how to learn online, read books, watch concerts and more. If you live together, make it a shared experience. You can talk about what she discovered. You can also watch videos with them.
3. Allot Regular Time Each Day.
Allot a specific time everyday with your elders. Make the time exactly the same each day. For example, you can have tea with them every 4 o’clock in the afternoon. You can play chess, watch movies or simply talk. If you don’t live in the same house, you can call them at at the exact time everyday. Doing this on a regular basis makes them anticipate this ‘together’ time with you. This will give them something to look forward to each day.
4. Make Them Listen to Music
Music therapy is one of the treatments used by clinical psychologists for mental conditions. Music addresses the cognitive, physical, emotional and social needs of individuals. Some certain sound frequencies help the body relax and put the mind in a state of calmness. It is said to remove insomnia, anxiety, depression and other ailments.
5. Practice Social Distancing Not Isolation
if you are living with them, always bear in mind that you need to protect them. The only way that you can do that is to keep yourself well and do every precautions to keep yourself well like boosting your immune system, wearing or masks when you go outside and getting the habit of regularly washing your hands. If you have been going outside, make sure to practice social distancing at home. Social distancing is not isolation. Give your elder freedom to walk around the house as he/she normally does but protect and respect her space. Don’t lock your elder in one room. it’s keeping them safe but not making them feel imprisoned or deprived.
6. Give Them a Project to Work On
Keep them busy. Give them a project to work on. It can be organizing old photos or writing down or her/his signature recipes. It can even be writing a journal to document his/her life.