The recent outbreak of the pandemic was especially stressful for the elderly. Elders are more vulnerable to the disease as a result of their weakened immune systems. Higher mortality rates of COVID-19 are also found in the old.
Caretakers should especially be aware of the high-risk elderly group, such as those living alone, in low-income housing, and people who are already suffering from other health conditions such as dementia, cognitive decline, and mental illness.
Managing their stress levels is extremely vital. When they are isolated and quarantined, such that they cannot see their family members, they may feel overwhelmed by the new living conditions, leading to mental health problems.
Mental Health and the Elderly
One of the biggest issues when it comes to the mental health of the elderly is the fact that it’s hard to keep in touch with them during isolation. Isolating them has had very significant implications for their mental health.
The perceived loneliness and social isolation can lead to many psychological symptoms such as anxiety and depression.
The enforced social isolation as a result of the pandemic may be different from that which arises from normal circumstances. A recent review of this psychological impact of the quarantine showed a high outbreak of disease that had post-traumatic symptoms.
Most of the evidence showed the reason behind it being persistent long-term loneliness. The most persistent outcome was from quarantine periods that exceeded 10 days, which led to frustration, and boredom from a lack of information and supplies.
How to Care for the Mental Health of the Elderly During this Time
If you have some elderly people in your care, you must be careful about their mental health while they are in quarantine.
As we have mentioned above, this isolated period could be the main cause of depression, anxiety, and stress. Here are a few ways you can take care of the elderly in isolation.
Start by Limiting Their Risk to Infection
This is the first thing you must do. Ensure that you limit their chances of getting infected with the disease. The number one group of people who are highly affected by the pandemic are the elderly, and it is fatal to them.
Ensure that even while in isolation, there are no chances of them getting infected, or spreading it to each other.
Teach Them How to Use Technology
Technology has really made life easy during this quarantine period. People are able to have face to face conversations while keeping in touch; they are able to speak to their loved ones and find out how they are doing.
While telephone conversations are good, they cannot compare to a video call. Most elderly people may not know how to make these video calls, and as such, they may feel unsatisfied with the kind of conversations they have been having with their family members.
Teaching them how to make a simple video call could make a huge difference to them and even help them with feelings of loneliness and depression.
If you are caring for some elderly folks, ensure to teach them some technology on how to make simple calls to their family members, as it may help them feel a little closer to home.
Ensure They Are Well-Informed About COVID-19
Take time to explain to them the disease, most especially what it is, how it is transmitted, and the statistics of the infected people. Let them understand why they must be in isolation at this time, and the risks of them getting infected.
Be There for Them Emotionally
Don’t get weary from talking and listening to them. Be the person they can vent to during this incredibly hard time. They are worried about their lives, and they are concerned about their peers and friends. Most of them have probably lost friends since COVID-19 started, and they need encouragement.
Talking goes a long way towards healing, and it can certainly help get them to a place of healing.
It is extremely important to take care of elderly people around us. If you cannot reach them, make calls to them, and even talk to their caretakers, as most of them have been adversely affected by the disease.