Seniors, Their Mental Health & COVID-19

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By Kristin Stetler Donovan, Owner, Age Advantage of Newark 

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has been at least somewhat stressful for most people, but incredibly stressful for others. Fear and anxiety about a new disease and what could happen can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. It can be especially scary for seniors or those who have also been deemed as our “most” at risk population.

Public health actions, such as social distancing, can make people feel isolated and lonely and can increase stress and anxiety. However, these actions are necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Coping with stress in a healthy way will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger. Unfortunately, our senior population does not understand why no one comes to visit and it “seems” like no one cares about them. Some cannot fathom or understand that there is a disease so threatening to them and that their loved ones are staying away for their own protection. The emotional and mental impacts that this disease has on our senior population is horrific. Family members and loved ones also struggle staying away, and experience the feeling that they are neglecting their cognitively declining loved ones and, as a result, experience extreme guilt.

This pandemic has and continues to create incredible stress and feelings of isolation. Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can sometimes cause the following: Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones, your financial situation or job, or loss of support services you rely on. Some feared support services due to the rapid spread and contagious nature of COVID-19. Many stayed home with their loved ones and are now, months later, experiencing significant stress and fatigue, which often happens when operating as the primary or sole caregiver. With that stress and fatigue there is often depression, sometimes brought on from the sheer exhaustion of managing their own emotions and also trying to support the mental, emotional and physical needs of a loved one. 

For those whose loved one resides in a community or senior care residence, some families made the decision to bring their loved ones home, only increasing the stress that this pandemic has created. Senior Communities, home care organizations—such as Age Advantage—occupational therapists, physical therapists and all care providers have worked in conjunction with the State of Delaware closely and have done an incredible job quickly developing and implementing plans and protocols to protect our elderly population. Unfortunately, a precaution that had to be taken was limiting the visitors entering the buildings where seniors reside. Several communities had families come through as a car caravan waving to their loved ones and have had “window visits”, some with walkie-talkies. Staff members have even facilitated Skype and Zoom calls, also constructing visitation booths with plexiglass partitions. Recently, many communities have implemented safe outdoor visitation procedures to allow family members to safely reconnect with their loved ones. 

Throughout the pandemic, Age Advantage has continued supporting seniors in communities and in their homes. We have complied with Covid testing requirements and have obtained all necessary PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) to continue safely serving our clients.

All senior care providers have tried to be creative and always conscientious of safety. The important thing to remember is that none of us are alone in this. We are all experiencing similar emotions in one way or another. 

Please call our office at 302-722-8240 if you would like information about the senior support services that we have available. We would be happy to assist you. 

Testimonial

“Mom’s caregiver has taken care of mom for over a year now, and we are so grateful for her. Since the quarantine began at mom’s Assisted Living facility last Spring, mom’s caregiver has taken amazing care of Mom as if she was her own Mother, making her laugh and feel safe everyday!”  ~ DDR

www.ageadvantage.com