2020 and the coronavirus has been hard on everyone, but perhaps on none more so than older adults.
Seniors are among the hardest hit population with infections of COVID-19 and are at a much higher risk of complications. As a result, they are also the group most likely to follow safety guidelines for social isolation.
Though there is no denying the wisdom of this course of action, it comes with its own set of risks for seniors: depression, anxiety, and cognitive decline. Additionally, these issues can be hard to diagnose and could likely go unnoticed for many seniors.
While we might not be able to see or visit our older friends and family members in person, there are a variety of ways you can help support them from afar.
Stay in touch
Something as simple as a phone call several times a week can make a huge difference in a senior’s mindset and help lessen their sense of isolation. Touching base, even for a short conversation, makes people feel connected and worthwhile.
Staying active has a positive impact on both mind and body. Even simple activities can help with mood and stress, as well as benefit cognitive function memory and brain health. It is of great importance to older adults.
Suggest a new hobby
Help older adults discover a new hobby or pastime. Immersing themselves in a new endeavor like painting, writing, reading, knitting or any other kind of hobby can distract a person from loneliness and isolation, stimulate their mind and provide a sense of accomplishment.
Help with the basics
Many older adults are concerned about leaving the safety or their homes for simple everyday tasks. Volunteer to handle some of those chores for them. Offer to get groceries, medicines, and essential items. Teach the art of online shopping and payment so that they don’t have to feel dependent on anyone.
Offer gentle encouragement about technology
The stigma that older adults are averse to technology is not necessarily true, but when your loved one resists modern ways to stay connected, try some gentle encouragement. Teach them to engage socially via technology. Consider purchasing your loved one a tablet loaded with books, or one that makes it easy to watch movies or TV shows.
Seek professional help
Anxiety and depression can seriously affect an older adult’s functionality and quality of life. Complicating matters is the fact that many seniors have a sense of shame or embarrassment about seeing a therapist or psychiatrist. However, it’s important to take action. When properly treated, it’s not unusual to see improvements in their emotional and physical health.
Whether it’s a family member, a friend, or a neighbor down the street, finding ways to remain connected with a senior adult can make a significant difference in their life. It might make a significant difference in yours too.