Helping Seniors Through COVID-19 Fatigue
It’s been almost a year since the terms “quarantine,” “social distancing,” and “COVID-19” were unexpectedly added to our everyday vocabulary. A virus we thought would be gone in a matter of weeks, or maybe a couple of months, has dragged on for nearly a year and reached every corner of the globe.
With each passing month, it gets harder and harder to fight the overwhelming emotional and mental exhaustion that’s to be expected after a year of facing constant danger from the virus, coping with loss, and being denied basic pleasures like gathering with friends, eating at restaurants, or going to the movies. In addition to being a huge emotional drain, this feeling—commonly known as COVID fatigue—is a bigger problem because it causes people to let their guards down and expose themselves to the virus.
For the senior community who is already at a greater risk of harm from the coronavirus, COVID fatigue can be especially dangerous. Compared to much of society, seniors have endured especially strict isolation from friends and loved ones. As a result, they may be feeling lonely, lost, and even hopeless. Their growing impatience to return to their normal lives could cause them to start relaxing precautions protecting them from the virus. Maybe they wash their hands less, stop wearing their mask, or push to have family gatherings that could put them at risk.
With vaccine distribution underway and the pandemic’s end on the horizon, it’s more important than ever to maintain our vigilance and not be lured into a false sense of security. To keep your elderly loved ones safe, here are some quick tips for helping them fight COVID fatigue:
- Implement Healthy Routines
Encourage elderly loved ones to make safe practices part of their daily routine. Try suggesting they wash their hands when they return home or gift them a necklace or lanyard to put their mask on so they never forget it. Healthy routines can go far beyond those that increase safety and improve sanitation. A regular schedule of appropriate exercise, refreshing outdoor time, and fulfilling hobbies can be good for both physical and mental health.
- Keep a Journal
Processing difficult or troubling emotions is uniquely challenging in isolation when others aren’t around to help you work through them. Adopting a cathartic practice like journaling can be a great way to find self-awareness and inner peace. Furthermore, journaling has been proven to aid in managing anxiety, reducing stress, and coping with depression. Get your senior loved ones started by purchasing them a journal that’s dedicated solely to their thoughts. Then, show your support by embarking on the journey alongside them with a journal of your own.
- Maintain Regular Communication
There’s certainly no stand-in for the comfort of a hug or the joy of face-to-face interaction, but it’s important to understand the difference between physical and social distancing. Just because you may be physically separated from a loved one, doesn’t mean you should be emotionally or socially distant. Now more than ever, your elderly loved ones are craving communication and quality time—in whatever way they can get it. Whether with weekly family Zoom sessions, daily check-in calls, or handwritten letters, a connection is key to quelling COVID fatigue.
- Practice Mindfulness or Prayer
The end goal with both of these practices is to help elderly loved ones achieve a sense of peace. Mindfulness is the practice of focusing one’s full awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. Practicing mindfulness can begin with something as simple as closing one’s eyes and listening to the sound of one’s breath. For those who are religious or spiritual, prayer and worship are great ways to lighten the burden and find comfort in a higher being who has control when we do not. Taking part in either or both of these practices can fight the feelings of hopelessness and anxiety that are common symptoms of COVID fatigue.
If you’re looking for assurance that your loved one(s) spends their golden years in a safe, nurturing senior living community, where everyone is family and cared for with comfort at every phase of life, schedule a tour by clicking here.