During the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen the virus take effects on far more than our physical health. COVID-19 is causing lasting effects on financial stability, the way we live our day-to-day lives and our emotional health. At Sagora Senior Living, we are proud to offer teams and programs committed to the mental health of our residents. Through the COVID-19 pandemic, we have educated our associates even more and continue to grow our mental health programming and care. In observance of Mental Health Awareness month in May, we’d like to focus on the toll the virus taking on seniors and ways to combat and work through its emotional effects.
Depression is common among seniors. Studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that 7 million American adults over the age of 65 experience depression each year. In light of COVID-19, issues causing depression in seniors is amplified. These can include but are not limited to loneliness and isolation, anxiety surrounding uncertainty, fear and worry about health and difficulty sleeping.
During this time, we are all being called to adapt to a new state of normalcy. The first step to combating depression during this time is to take a breath and to understand that it is okay and completely normal to feel depressed, stressed and not like yourself. Our tips for handling emotional distress for seniors or anyone who may be struggling during this time are listed below and are based off of recommendations by the CDC.
• Reach out for support. Contact your loved ones for a virtual or phone chat. Ask how they’re doing. There’s never been a better time than now to reach out to family and friends to connect. If you have a loved one at one of our communities, you may schedule a virtual chat via Skype or FaceTime with them. Call your loved one’s community directly for additional information and to schedule a session.
• Take care of your body. It can be tempting to reach for comforting, unhealthy foods during this time but nourishing your body with proper nutrition will set yourself up for success by supplying your body with the nutrients that it needs.
• Take breaks from news media. It’s important to stay informed but an overload of news media can be overwhelming. When it all becomes too much, turn off the TV and call a friend or engage in physical activity.
• Stick to a daily schedule/routine. It is medically proven that sticking to a set schedule helps to combat depression and apathy. At our communities, we have daily activities, events and fitness classes to help fill the day with a sense of purpose and productivity.
• Stay active. Exercise is some of the best medicine out there. It doesn’t have to be strenuous – going for a walk, yoga or even light strength training are great ways to get blood flowing and will release serotonin to the brain for an instant mood boost.
We hope that these tips help and that you can find emotional peace during this unprecedented time. Our Lifestyles team is dedicated to enriching the lives of our residents and to promote physical and emotional wellness. Additionally, if you or someone you know is struggling, we encourage you to seek the help you need. We have listed some national resources below that are available at no cost and on a 24/7 basis.
National Domestic Violence Hotline offers phone support to people experiencing domestic violence.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers phone support to people in emotional distress.
SAMHSA’s National Helpline provides treatment referrals and information support to people coping with substance abuse or other mental health conditions.
Veterans Crisis Line provides support to veterans and their loved ones.