Updated: Feb 11
Seniors, like everyone else, are navigating a new world thanks to the current pandemic. COVID-19 has turned the world upside-down and wreaked havoc on people's physical and mental health. There are particular struggles specific to seniors. We are considered the vulnerable population, meaning the effects would likely be much worse if we caught the virus. This creates a heightened level of anxiety and with family and friends hoping to keep seniors safe, isolation has increased.
Social and physical activities are essential for senior health, both physically and mentally. Many seniors and community centres have closed, social activities have come to a halt, and we have spent time distancing ourselves from others for much of the past year. This has understandably resulted in an increase in anxiety and depression amongst the senior population.
That said, anyone over the age of 65 has already lived through their share of adversity. Older generations have experienced World Wars and the Great Depression. The senior population is resilient and has come out of a global crisis before. Research has found that older generations, who didn’t grow up in the technologically fueled world we now live in, are more patient. They aren’t as accustomed to instant gratification and are better equipped to “wait it out.”
As we continue to hold on and wait it out, there are certain things many seniors are finding comfort in. The Canadian Association of Retired Persons recently polled their members for tips on coping with this pandemic. Some of the wisdom included starting a gratitude journal listing one thing you are grateful for every day. The other popular suggestion was to connect with others, even if it’s not in person. You can write letters, emails, or call someone. If you don’t have someone to call, you aren’t alone. The National Initiative for the Care of the Elderly (NICE) has set up a Talk2Nice line, where you can call and have a friendly chat with someone over the phone.
A University of Alberta professor, Wendy Duggleby, who specializes in aging, suggests looking through old photos when you start to feel down. It will bring back good memories and can boost morale. Another way to boost morale is to do something you enjoy. If you love to cook or bake, do more of that, or perhaps cook for someone else and drop it off.
This is a great time to start pursuing a new hobby. If you have always wanted to paint with watercolours, work with pottery or build a ship in a bottle – now’s the time! You can order everything you need off Amazon, and it will be delivered to your door in just days. If you use Zoom or Skype, you can set up paint nights with friends or family and paint together virtually.
Although you may not have anywhere to be in the morning, sticking to a routine can help with physical and mental health. Get up at the same time in the morning, get dressed and have breakfast. If you can, try getting outside, even for just 10 minutes. The natural light will also help with sleep.
We have made it through struggles before, and we will make it through this one. Stay safe, take care of yourself, and don’t hesitate to reach out!
Talk soon, Don P.S If you want some ideas for staying active, checkout my post on Keeping Active in Your Senior Years.