Caring for Older Adults during COVID-19
The coronavirus pandemic is likely to impact everyone’s emotional health—whether it is due to stress, anxiety, social isolation or underlying mental illness. One group in particular we all must keep in mind are older adults. Aging itself can be a time of loss and loneliness; however, with the new restrictions placed on daily routines and support networks, there is likely to be an even higher risk to the physical and emotional well-being of older family members and friends.
According to Mental Health America and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, some of the main factors affecting the aging population during this time of crisis are as follows:
- Decrease in physical health and a higher susceptibility to coronavirus,
- Increase in rates of mental illness, especially depression and anxiety,
- Increase in social isolation and loneliness,
- Disruptions in routines such as eating, sleeping and regular activities, and
- Increase in feelings of grief due to loss of social networks and a sense purpose in life.
We all are needed during this time to help support older members of our community. While we must maintain social distancing and other recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control, we can still reach out and connect with older adults in our families and neighborhoods in the following ways:
- Regularly check on older adult family members, friends and neighbors. This can occur through a phone call, video chat or other means.
- Ask how they are doing and if they need anything that we can provide like a meal or walking a pet.
- Have a discussion about how they are coping with the stress of the crisis and share coping ideas.
- Encourage them to keep daily activities as much as possible, including exercise, listening to music or prayer.
- Help support them to seek medical or emotional care as needed.
- Show appreciation for your relationship with them by thanking them for their time, their knowledge and their contribution to your life.
For more information regarding older adults and resources for managing during COVID-19, please contact the following resources: