Many older adults are experiencing extra stress because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Television stations and newspapers are full of bad news about the spread of the disease and its effects. Because older adults are at higher risk for the virus, they may have feelings of fear and spend an undue amount of time worrying about what could happen. Finding ways to cope with the stress are an important part of keeping your older family member healthy and strong through these tough times.
Why Might Seniors Feel Stressed?
How your older family member deals with the stress of the pandemic is dependent on factors including their background and their community. Seniors may be more susceptible to stress from the situation because they are at higher risk due to age. In addition, if your aging relative has a chronic condition or suffers from mental health issues, the stress may be even worse.
Signs of stress due to the pandemic may include:
- Expressing fear about their health or about the health of people they care about.
- Sleep changes, like not being able to sleep or sleeping too much.
- Changes in eating patterns, including eating too much or eating less.
- Health problems getting worse.
- Using substances like alcohol, drugs, or tobacco to cope.
What Can Seniors Do to Cope with Stress?
There are many ways older adults can reduce the stress they are feeling because of the virus. Some suggestions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are:
- Take Breaks: Spending too much time watching the news, reading the newspaper, or following other coverage of the outbreak can increase stress. Seniors should turn off the television and avoid information about the virus for a while each day.
- Take Care of Health: Following a healthy lifestyle can improve overall health and relieve stress. Older adults should eat well, exercise, and get enough sleep. They should also use stress reduction techniques, like meditation and deep breathing.
- Unwind: Seniors should make an effort to continue engaging in activities they enjoy, such as hobbies.
- Connect: Though older adults may not be able to see others face to face, they should still try to remain connected by making phone calls, using social media, and writing cards or letters.
How Can Elder Care Help with Stress?
Elder care providers can assist older adults to reduce the stress they may be feeling due to the pandemic in many ways. In fact, just by knowing that an elder care provider is going to visit regularly and help with whatever they need, older adults may feel less stressed. While visiting, elder care providers can distract seniors from their worries by spending time talking about other things or listening when the senior needs to talk about their fears. Elder care providers can also assist older adults to maintain good health habits by preparing healthy meals for them and helping them to get outside for a bit of exercise while still maintaining social distancing.
IF YOU ARE CONSIDERING ELDER CARE IN ALTOONA, IA, FOR A SENIOR LOVED ONE, CONTACT GOLDEN HEART SENIOR CARE OF DES MOINES, IA AT 515-631-5033. OUR CARING STAFF CAN ANSWER YOUR QUESTIONS!