Tips for Seniors to Manage Anxiety and Overcome Isolation during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Published on April 3, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic can be extremely stressful for seniors. Not only are older adults more likely to develop serious complications due to the virus, but they are also more likely to feel anxiety and depression.
Feeling anxious and stressed about the coronavirus is a natural reaction. There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the pandemic. But managing one’s anxiety during COVID-19 and finding ways to cope with the isolation can do wonders for seniors’ mental health.
Here are some helpful tips for seniors during COVID-19 to help them reduce their stress and anxiety surrounding the coronavirus.
How V!VA Is Coping with the COVID-19 Pandemic
At V!VA Retirement Communities, the safety and health of our Community Members, their families, and our Team Members are our biggest priorities.
To help reduce the risk to those living in, working in, and visiting our communities, we’ve enacted several protocols.
We have asked our Community Members to refrain from leaving their community and to practice social distancing. Those who must leave for essential reasons (e.g. doctor appointments) are being screened upon departure and screened again upon their return.
All Community Members have their temperature checked twice a day, regardless of whether they leave the community.
Our V!VA Retirement Communities Team Members and external care providers are also being screened twice a day, upon arrival at and departure from the community.
Tips for Seniors Dealing with Anxiety and Stress during COVID-19
Stress, anxiety, and depression can manifest in a variety of physical, psychological, emotional, and behavioural ways. If you think your loved one might be having a difficult time managing their anxiety, here are some signs to look for:
Loss of appetite
Virus-related worries and insecurity
Feeling overwhelmed or powerless
Feeling irritable or aggressive
Difficulty making decisions
Increased use of alcohol, drugs, and/or medication
How to Reduce Stress and Anxiety during COVID-19
The best way for seniors to manage their anxiety related to COVID-19 is to stay informed. It’s hard to know what will happen next, especially since the coronavirus is so unpredictable, but looking to trusted sources and staying informed on how to limit the spread of COVID-19 will help seniors feel less anxious about the unknown.
For accurate information, seniors can refer to information published by the Government of Canada, the Government of Ontario, and the World Health Organization (WHO).
Cut Back on the News or Social Media
While it’s important to have all the facts and stay up to date on the news, focusing too much on “breaking news” can cause even more anxiety related to COVID-19.
Seniors should limit the amount of time they spend watching the news or reading newspapers and focus their time on other more productive tasks. Older adults should try to spend no more than 30 minutes at a time watching the news, either in the morning or in the evening.
Given that seniors, particularly those with compromised immune systems and respiratory issues, are more likely to develop severe complications related to COVID-19, the best defense is a good offense. This means seniors should make sure they are eating nutritious meals, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep.
Self-care also includes one’s mental health. Make sure your senior loved one is also prioritizing their emotional and psychological well-being. Communicating with them regularly – even via online video calls – can keep you attuned to changes in their mood or outlook.
Know when to Seek Help
While stress and anxiety are both perfectly normal responses for seniors during the pandemic, if their anxiety related to COVID-19 is negatively impacting their daily lives and causing extreme depression, it may be time to get professional help. Many mental health support services are now available via video calling technology too.
Other signs your senior loved one might need to speak with a counsellor or therapist include difficulty getting out of bed or carrying out their daily tasks and/or purposely isolating themselves from loved ones (e.g. avoiding video calls and phone calls).
How to Cope with Isolation during COVID-19
Often seniors already feel isolated when living away from their family and friends. Now with the Chief Medical Officer of Ontario’s recommendation to self-isolate and practice social distancing, it can be even harder for seniors.
Here are two ways older adults can cope with isolation during COVID-19.
Stay Connected with Family and Friends
Just because we need to distance ourselves socially, doesn’t mean we need to isolate socially, too.
Staying connected to family and friends via phone, video calling, emailing, or any other technology available can help seniors to reduce stress and anxiety and cope with isolation. It’s important for seniors to remember that they are not the only ones required to isolate. Everyone is in the same situation and is missing their loved ones.
Learn a New Hobby
There’s no better time than now for a senior to take up a new hobby or learn a new skill. Instead of looking at self-isolation as a negative thing, seniors should use the time to focus on their own health and well-being.
Activities that seniors can participate in that can help them cope with isolation include learning a new language online, painting, knitting, or meditating.
V!VA Retirement Communities: Stronger Together
The COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented, and has affected everyone differently. At V!VA Retirement Communities, we strive to create an environment where our Community Members feel comfortable and safe.
The health and well-being of each and every one of our Community Members is important to us. We continue to do our part to flatten the curve, while also helping our seniors manage their anxiety and cope with feelings of isolation.
To learn more about V!VA’s COVID-19 response or to get more COVID-19 tips for seniors, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 1-888-984-8482 and ask to speak with the Community Director or Wellness Manager.