2020 has brought many surprises and given seniors a variety of new challenges to consider in daily life. Now, as summer turns to fall, and we consider the changing phases of the Covid-19 pandemic British Columbia, seniors and their loved ones can easily find themselves feeling anxious.
According to the Geriatric Mental Health Foundation, 10-20% of older adults may experience anxiety. As bodies, minds, life circumstances, and social realities change, seniors can find themselves living with new levels of stress, anxiety or depression. We recommend seniors, caregivers and family members be attentive to signs of extreme anxiety and depression such as panic attacks and obsessive-compulsive behaviours and take these issues to a medical professional.
Healthy life rhythms and choices can help seniors avoid the pitfalls of anxiety. Here are six ways to strengthen resilience in seniors amid uncertain times.
1. Get Good Sleep
Sleeping well is a challenge as we age, and this in itself can lead to cognitive decline and poor health. Rather than surrendering to sleepless nights, seniors can experiment with solutions that have worked for many. Low doses of melatonin, a weighted blanket, and CBD oil have given some seniors the freedom to sleep well.
2. Regular Social Connections
The dangers of isolation and loneliness are well documented. Aging can often bring less frequent social connections, and seniors and their love ones must actively look for opportunities to sustain familiar relationships and discovering new ones. In normal circumstances, a seniors centre can often provide great relational connections. However, while faced with the precautions associated with avoiding the Covid-19 virus, living in a communal retirement home setting like Bria Communities offers, connecting with loved ones through video messaging, and even daily phone calls can reduce stress and anxiety.
3. Get Some Exercise
Physical activity has an enormous impact on physical and mental health; however, according to the CDC , by age 75, about one in three men and one in two women engage in no physical activity. Walking, gardening, swimming, senior-friendly fitness and yoga classes bring with them terrific benefits for the mind and body.
3. Reinforce Positive Messages
Our words have a powerful effect on those around us. Caregivers and loved ones can ensure their ageing loved ones stay in a positive mindset by speaking positively, kindly and gently. Leaving positive messages and notes around a seniors home may help change thought patterns while they’re alone. Limiting exposure to stressful influences—whether it’s the company of a negative neighbour or the 6 o’clock news can also assist in maintaining good mental health.
5. Become Pet-Friendly
The friendship, purpose and patterns that come with a furry, feathery, or fishy friend can greatly impact a senior’s mental health. If owning a pet isn’t an option, consider connecting with a St. John’s Ambulance pet therapy program or even volunteering to care for a neighbour’s pet while they’re out for the day.
6. Familiar Experiences
Nostalgia and familiarity are natural mood boosters and help can seniors manage their mental health. Good feelings come from making a favourite cookie recipe, visiting a special spot in the park, driving past your old neighbourhood, or watching vintage home movies. Remembering the good times can help seniors struggling to find the good in day to day life.
Stress has become a regular part of 2020, and seniors may find themselves experiencing increased anxiety. These simple steps can help reduce stress among our elders; however, if anxiety and depression symptoms increase or worsen, it is in the senior’s best interest to seek a medical professional’s help.