COVID hits seniors hard. Many of us have underlying medical conditions that make a diagnosis of COVID very risky in terms of recovery. But the lockdown from the pandemic has another risky side: mental health disorders.
Whether we’re living at home, in a retirement center or a care facility, our isolation has been very stressful.
A survey conducted in June concluded that seniors were less negatively affected than other age groups when it comes to mental health. They say we have better emotional regulation, which means we don’t react as strongly to negative events.
But the study was done when we were only a few months into this new way of living. (Even the study mentions that as a caveat.) Now eight more months have passed. Holidays without family. Missed doctor appointments. We’ve had to take a crash course in online chat to be able to see and talk to friends and family. Our regular meetings and social outings are canceled. The news has been a daily onslaught of the increasing numbers of positive cases and deaths.
A more recent study from Portugal unearthed the truth, however. After reviewing 41 pieces of research from around the world, scientists concluded that “anxiety, depression, poor sleep quality and physical inactivity” have been prevalent among seniors during our lockdowns.
If you’re struggling, ask for help. In some communities, hotlines have opened up to deal with this kind of stress. Look online for “mental health hotline” and your state. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention set up a web page in December. Search online for “CDC Coping with Stress” and look at all the offerings on the page. There is a national helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). Or you can just pick up the phone and dial 211. It’s a referral for community services.
(c) 2021 King Features