March 1, 2021
Seniors Affected by Isolation & Loneliness Because of COVID
Seniors Affected By Isolation And Loneliness Because of COVID And How To Help.
In 2020, everybody is trying stay healthy and safe. Unfortunately for some, measures they are taking to protect themselves from the virus are harming them in other ways. Loneliness amongst older adults, provoked by the COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions, is negatively affecting their health. In some cases, with devastating or even deadly consequences.
Loneliness and Cognitive Decline
The year 2020 has seen a surge of deaths of people with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Some of that is no doubt related to the fact that having dementia or Alzheimer’s during COVID-19 makes those people more vulnerable to the virus.
Now more than ever, social connections are vital to human health. We were designed to be in relationships with one other and both our mental and physical health suffers without those connections.
All our social lives have taken a hit in 2020, but perhaps none so much as seniors. Most don’t have jobs to distract them and many live alone. Those in retirement communities have experienced limited group activities and visitors.
It’s had a devastating effect with rising rates of depression and other mental health issues. The CDC reports that social isolation is associated with:
● A 50% higher risk of dementia
● A 29% higher risk of heart disease
● A 32% higher risk of stroke
● Higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide
● Fourfold risk of death among heart failure patients
Retirement communities and other facilities serving Hawaii’s kupuna are doing their best to help seniors feel connected. Here are some simple ways for older adults to combat loneliness.
1. Video Technology Can Help
Using video technology is a safe and easy way to stay connected. You may not be able to see your friends and family members in person, but in this day and age, it shouldn’t stop you from interacting.
You can use video chat for more than just chatting. If you are isolated in your room or quarantined in your house, take a virtual hike in the Swiss Alps or snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef. Be creative, there are lots of ways to connect through technology.
2. Exercise and Activities
Feeling down? Get some exercise. Exercise releases endorphins, which are the “feel-good” chemicals that give us a natural little pick me up. Many facilities are offering socially distanced or virtual classes and other ways for residents to get their sweat on.
It’s also important to keep your brain active, especially when trying to avoid cognitive decline. Take an online class, work on arts and crafts, do crossword or jigsaw puzzles, find something you enjoy that will both fill the hours and flex your mental muscles.
3. Don’t Live in Fear, But Do Take Precautions
Hiding away in insolation for months on end won’t do you any good. While older adults are at a higher risk from the Coronavirus it’s a good idea to limit physical interactions with other people, complete isolation maybe just as dangerous.
To that end, get out of the house when you can. Go for a walk and get fresh air, visit family members and friends, but follow the CDC’s guidelines for older adults when doing so. Try to meet outdoors, wear a mask, wash your hands frequently, and stay at least 6 feet apart if at all possible.
4. Think of Others
Getting out of your own headspace and thinking about other people is a huge advantage for combatting loneliness. Regularly call family and friends. Reach out to others you know who may be struggling and would appreciate words of comfort.
5. Accept Help
Don’t hesitate to accept help when it is offered, or ask for it when needed.
Older adults often keep quiet about their struggles because they don’t want to burden their families. Know that your friends and family want you to be healthy and happy and they want to support you during this difficult time.
6. Stick to a Routine
During your younger years, you always had a reason to get out of bed. Perhaps you needed to get to work on time or make sure that your kids were eating a nutritious breakfast. Whatever it was, you always had your daily routine.
Don’t lose that in retirement. Create a routine for yourself and stick to it. Be sure to fill up your calendar with activities and events so you always have something to look forward to, even if it’s just a quick call with your friends.
7. Travel Virtually
Many museums and travel destinations have taken to offering virtual tours and trips. If you’ve got the travel bug, why not take advantage? Traveling the world from your living room can be just as interesting and entertaining as traveling in an airplane. Bonus: it is a whole lot cheaper with zero jet lag!
8. Adopt a Pet
Finally, if you’re able to care for an animal, consider opening your home to a pet. Pets can be great company and can provide a welcomed distraction. Plus, active pets like dogs can help get you up in the morning and out of the house for the all-important walk! At 15 Craigside, we know pets are special and we welcome four-legged furry family members into the community.
Staying Safe and Healthy
Don’t let social isolation get you down during this difficult season. One day COVID-19, masks, social distancing, and all the rest will be a memory. By staying healthy and safe both physically and mentally through the tough times will ensure to bring happy moments in the future.
Interested in moving to a life plan community to finish riding out the pandemic? Visit 15 Craigisde and Arcadia and see what we have to offer. From independent living with the support and amenities you need to full medical care and access to 24-hour emergency care, we offer everything you need for a safe and happy retirement.