The current reality we all face as COVID-19 makes its way around the world—social distancing, self isolation, and long-lasting quarantines—is difficult for everyone. Seniors, though, might be the population most affected by these challenging but necessary measures. As a group of people who often rely on maintaining family ties, daily routines, and social gatherings for both their physical and emotional wellbeing, it can sometimes feel next-to-impossible for older adults to stay shut up indoors without any face-to-face human interaction. So what can you do to emotionally support your elderly loved ones while they’re in self-isolation? How can you make it easier for them? We’ve got a few tips.
How Self-Isolation Affects Older Adults
As people across the globe stay confined to their homes, isolation affects everyone differently. Some welcome the change of pace while others find it a tough reality to contend with. Seniors tend to make up the latter.
Older adults—especially those in senior living communities—tend to structure their days around planned social events, such as movie nights, games, and afternoon tea. Seniors living at home might not have the same rigid structure to their days as residents of senior living communities do, but they still by and large rely on social events for their day’s routine. In retirement—especially when facing common conditions the elderly often develop, such as Alzheimer’s or dementia—social events act as anchors to physical and mental health. In terms of mental health, a correlation has been found between loneliness and depression in older adults; additionally, a departure from daily routines can lead to anxiety. Studies have also shown that isolation can raise the mortality risk factor among older adults—in fact, the health effects of prolonged isolation have been equated to the effects of smoking 15 cigarettes per day.
It’s not just social gatherings and daily routines that keep elderly individuals in good health; it’s family ties, as well. Many seniors are proud parents and grandparents, and as they grow out of their careers and sometimes their homes, visits with loved ones hold more and more meaning. Studies have indeed shown a strong association between family times and wellbeing in the elderly.
It’s essential, then, to provide as much emotional support as possible while your elderly loved one is in self-isolation during the coronavirus crisis.
Tips to Help Provide Emotional Support
What can you do to help make self-isolation easier for your favorite older adult? Fortunately, in today’s digital age, it’s never been easier to connect with loved ones—even without face-to-face interactions. In addition to keeping bonds strong, there are a few things you can help encourage your elderly loved one to do while in self-isolation to keep their spirits high.
Help Them Keep In Touch
Video chatting might be a no brainer for you, but for older adults, it’s not always as easy. One study showed that a whopping 77% of seniors surveyed said that they feel they need help from others to get the hang of certain digital technologies. To enable easy video chats with your elderly loved ones, help them get set up with all the necessary digital devices and software and guide them through the process so they’re able to handle it on their own.
Encourage Immune-Boosting Methods
Isolation can take a toll on the body just as much as the mind. In fact, studies have shown that isolation can make seniors more susceptible to dementia and cardiovascular problems, such as heart disease and stroke.
To help combat the effects of isolation on your elderly loved one’s physical wellbeing, encourage them to focus on building up their immune system as much as possible during this time. That means eating a well-balanced diet, exercising, and taking any necessary vitamins regularly.
Care Delivery for Urgent Health Issues
At DispatchHealth, we’re taking measures to help seniors as much as possible during the COVID-19 crisis. Our teams can treat patients that have tested positive for COVID-19 (except for patients in our Springfield, Massachusetts, and Ridgewood, New Jersey service areas). Plus, we still provide convenient, in-home medical care for a wide variety of other health concerns, conditions, and illnesses that seniors often face. Our teams are wearing surgical masks, gloves, and eye protection to protect our patients, and we’ve enhanced our sanitation procedures for our vehicles, as well. If your elderly loved one needs treatment in self-isolation, turn to DispatchHealth to help. Request care via our website, app, or over the phone to receive care at your doorstep within a few hours—all without having to leave the house.
DispatchHealth relies only on authoritative sources, including medical associations, research institutions, and peer-reviewed medical studies.
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