The pandemic has left no one unscathed. Everyone is in constant fear and anxiety about this new virus and its repercussions on society.
There is still no treatment, no vaccine, and health authorities have no idea when the Coronavirus disease will end.
All of these unknown circumstances make everything more overwhelming, causing everyone to feel a constant bout of anxiousness.
Mental Health of Seniors During the Pandemic
Recent studies have concluded that the pandemic and prolonged quarantine will take a hard toll on everyone’s mental health, especially older adults.
Senior citizen anxiety is a common illness affecting 20% of the older population. Despite it being a common illness, it is often left undiagnosed, dismissed, and overlooked, resulting in a full-blown disorder later on.
This statistic has been established even before the start of the pandemic. So, if it was common then, how much more so now?
Due to their age and weakened health state, seniors have a hard time coping with loneliness and isolation; it does not come as easy to them as it does to the younger generations.
As a result of these repressed emotions, seniors are more likely to develop anxiety during these trying times. Add to that their other concerns such as current living arrangements, financial status, and health.
It is also more frightening for them because of their age, and underlying medical conditions making them more prone to contract the infectious disease.
Fortunately, there are many ways to battle loneliness, isolation, and anxiousness. Seniors loved ones, and caregivers can do these simple steps to manage senior citizen anxiety during this pandemic.
1. Take a Break From the News and Social Media
It is essential to get up to date with the current events and news about COVID-19. However, constantly hearing about the pandemic can be mentally tiring and upsetting.
Repeatedly seeing dire news can also affect seniors’ mental well-being, aggravating their anxiousness even more. There is also a lot of fake news circulating on social media that may only feed into your fears and do you harm.
To prevent yourself from being overwhelmed by the news, it is better to limit your intake by taking a break every now and then. Stay informed, but stop obsessing over it. You can do this by:
- Visiting only trusted websites and news outlets such as the CDC, WHO, and a reputable local news station.
- Limit your social media scrolling to take a break from the pandemic scene.
- Take a social media detox by allotting 1 to 2 hours of social media access per day.
- Have someone reliable that can bring you credible news that you need to be aware of.
2. Focus on Things That You Can Control
This is easier said than done. But you need to focus only on the things that you can control and let go of those that you cannot.
Most anxieties stem from obsessing over the things that are out of your control. Knowing that something is beyond your grasp can be really terrifying.
It is a hard thing to accept, but you need to live with the reality that not everything can be controlled. Thinking about scenarios and questions that have unknown answers can be draining your mental health without you realizing it.
So instead of getting caught up in fear of the unknown, try grounding yourself by thinking of things that you can control instead. If you fear that you might get infected with the virus, then do something that can help you reduce your risk of having it.
Stay at home, wash your hands regularly, wear a face mask, avoid touching your face when outside, practice social distancing and avoid crowds.
Knowing that you have done every safety measure, lessens your anxiety and overthinking.
3. Stay Connected
Isolation only heightens senior citizen anxiety. Being alone with your thoughts definitely does not help your situation, especially for those already suffering from anxiety.
So instead of getting consumed with fear and worry, try communicating with family and friends through video calls and chats.
Sharing your thoughts and feelings with them can be surprisingly helpful and uplifting. Regularly talking to someone fosters a sense of normalcy while also taking your mind off of stressful things.
4. Use Your Free Time
Another great way to relieve your stress and anxiousness is to make use of all your free time. Not being able to go out and do stuff makes it more likely for your mind to wander and overthink.
Instead of constantly worrying about the future, why not spend that time doing new hobbies instead? Some activities that can keep your mind busy include:
- Read a book
- Write in a journal
- Exercising or meditation
- Listening to music
- Watching movies and series
- Playing phone games
It does not have to be a fulfilling and life-changing activity. It can be as simple as watching a series on Netflix, as long as you enjoy it and get to relax while doing it.
What’s more, is that you get to develop a new skill or learn something while keeping yourself busy.
So, even if you feel like you have a lot to do in a day, always make time for yourself and do something that makes you feel good.
5. Practice Mindfulness Exercises
Anxieties can come uninvited and invade your mind even in your most peaceful times. Once it penetrates the mind, it can be hard to remove it and gain control.
So, to protect your mental well-being, you need to equip yourself with mindfulness techniques that can calm your mind instantly.
- Do breathing exercises by inhaling and exhaling deeply. This can help relieve your stress by slowing down your reeling mind and emotions.
- Meditate or do a slow exercise to relax and keep your mind grounded.
- Listen to soothing music
- Write down your thoughts. By jotting them down, you get to release this huge stressful lump you have been carrying.
- Talk to someone. Listening to someone’s rational answers to your anxious what-ifs can sometimes help you relax.
Constant worry and fearful thoughts are normal reactions to this traumatic pandemic. What’s important is not to let it consume and control your mind.
Follow these simple steps to help you manage senior citizen anxiety. But when it becomes too much, try reaching out to a trusted confidant or psychologist to improve your situation.