The terms like social-distancing or isolation can be seen around a lot and are being practiced around the globe to reduce the spread of coronavirus. People have directed their focus on improving their physical health. However, the psychological impact of global lockdown and social distancing cannot be ignored either. We, humans, have evolved over millennia and our lives rely on complex social interactions and this is what has led to the foundation of societies. Social distancing is going to affect our mental health, particularly of the elderly to a greater extent. Just as senior citizens often opt for emotional support dogs for their mental wellbeing, there is a great chance that they might be looking up for other ways to cope with social distancing. Here is how social distancing is affecting the elderly and we can do to normalize the situation for them:
Sense of Loneliness:
We cannot deny the fact that as we age, we start relying on our loved ones around us. We get used to their presence, constant affection and the thought of being separated for them for a longer period of time is like a nightmare to us. Likewise, elderly people look up to their children or grandchildren and look forward to spending time with them. There is a great chance, that they might develop a sense of loneliness as they won’t be able to meet their people for a longer period of time.
A sudden and absolute change in routine is hard to cope with. How can anyone even feel comfortable breathing when there is a great chance of inhaling the deadly coronavirus? Going out for a walk or buying groceries has become like a mission for everyone. Living in an environment like this and listening to the news channels every day is making the elderly prone to depression. Moreover, having ample to sit at home and overthink the situation can cause severe emotional distress and can make our parents/grandparents fell prey to mental health issues like depression, anxiety and can increase the feelings of hopelessness and despair.
No matter what age group you belong to, boredom is going to take a toll on everyone. We all have our routine and way of doing things. The pre-lockdown life was all about living freely and going out and about without having to worry about getting infected by something deadly like coronavirus. Likewise, older adults had their routine. Be it a morning or evening walk or meeting their friends or family, every bit of their routine was vital to keep them busy and be their happy and healthy selves. However, the sudden change in the situation will surely create boredom for them. Sitting at home and not getting to do what they enjoyed will be burdensome for them emotionally. The empty mind will make room for negative and pessimistic thoughts which will in turn affect their mental health thus, leading to serious mental disorders.
What to do?
What to do to help them cope with the situation without felling prey to mental health disorders is a crucial part of the discussion. The current situation is emotionally burdening for everyone, irrespective of the age group. The younger lot can kill their time by scrolling through their social media feeds, but the elder ones can’t. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the people around them to take extra care of them within the house and keep them motivated and happy.
You can help them connect with the one they enjoy talking to or spending time using virtual means. Else, you can help them maintain a healthy routine by spending your time with them, either talking to them or by doing some healthy indoor activity together such as gardening. Make them do some simple physical exercise daily. Likewise, pay extra attention to their food and make sure to make them eat nutritious food.
Currently, social distancing is one of the only known ways of stopping the rapid spread of deadly coronavirus and it has to be practiced by everyone. Therefore, all we can do is to help each other to get through this with our kindness and love. If you have any elder one around you, take extra care of them and make sure to create a comfortable, healthy, and happy environment for them at home to keep their mental health intact.