5 steps to help seniors cope with stress about the COVID-19 crisis

One challenge our senior family members face as they process their vulnerability to the coronavirus is the risk for mental health issues. This time can be a very stressful for our senior loved ones. Whether we are family member caregivers or we partner with an in-home caregiver provider, we should pay careful attention to the possible increased stress levels of our elderly.

The overwhelming volume of information provided by around-the-clock news and the ever-growing number of experts on social media can become overwhelming and stressful. So, as we practice social distancing and take steps to protect ourselves and our loved ones from becoming infected, let’s be aware how our elderly loved ones are reacting to this crisis.

Our elderly family members may have different reactions. For many, they are emotionally fine and process the information around this crisis fairly well. For others, the reaction may not be as positive. Our seniors could have any of the following negative reactions:

  • With the demise of many of our elderly population in the news, they could be very concerned about the risk of contracting the coronavirus.
  • With social distancing as the key strategy to combat the spread of the virus, they could feel socially isolated.
  • Also, many may feel guilty about depending on loved ones to assist with their caregiving.

Here are five things to consider implementing that may help our senior loved ones reduce their stress levels around their concerns about this pandemic.

  1. Encourage these older adults to take a break from the constant news and social media coverage.
  2. Do something fun. Encourage your elderly to engage in an activity they enjoy.
  3. Encourage them to relax. This could be as simple as sitting and taking a few deep breaths—practice relaxing. Also, taking time to meditate on something encouraging can be helpful.
  4. Take steps to care for their health. Eating healthy meals, drink plenty water and get plenty sleep.
  5. Take time to talk with your senior loved ones about their concerns.

This brief list serves as a start. Being aware that your senior loved ones may be experiencing heightened stress about this crisis is a great place to start. When we are aware, we can begin to explore steps to address this challenge.

Helpful resource:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html