Dealing with social distancing and in many cases social isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic can be extremely tough, and that is especially the case for many senior citizens who live alone. That is why for caregivers, it is of the utmost importance to keep up with the mental health of those clients in their care. We ask you to keep these tips in mind to help ensure the mental well-being of the elderly in your life.
#1 KNOW THE RISK FACTORS OF DEPRESSION
“Depression can develop at any age, and for those seniors living alone, depression may very well come on quickly, especially if they feel even more disconnected from the world,” said Andy Cruz, Vice-President of Pride PHC. The National Institute of Mental Health says those seniors who have a chronic medical condition, poor sleep patterns, have a family history of depression, or use certain medications are at a higher risk to develop depression.
#2 MANAGE STRESS
With the U.S. now six months into the pandemic, stress can play a large role in the mental health of seniors. The U.S. Department of Indian Health Services says there are simple ways to keep stress levels from skyrocketing, such as sharing simple facts about the outbreak, communicating instructions in a clear and concise, yet respectful way, and encouraging family and friends to engage their elders in phone conversations or even video chat.
#3 MAINTAIN ROUTINES
During the coronavirus crisis, for many of us normal routines become much harder to maintain. For those you are caring for the elderly, The Centers for Disease Control and Preventions says to try to keep their routines as consistent as possible, while also reminding and assisting them with social distancing and proper hand hygiene. “This is especially important among those seniors who are living with some type of memory disorder such as dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease,” said Cruz.
#4 WATCH FOR WARNING SIGNS OF DEPRESSION
Depression can come on quickly, but there are ways to spot it before it becomes too late to do anything about it. The American Hospital Association warns to look out for changes in sleep, appetite, increased symptoms of anxiety and worry, fatigue, and an inability to focus on pleasurable activities. “It is just as important to notice these types of changes, as it is important to notice physical changes like weight or increased trouble with movement,” said Cruz.
If you are a caregiver and notice any changes in behavior with your client that do not go away or get even worse, contact a doctor or the team here at Pride immediately. The faster you can get help, the better the chance you have to addressing that the condition so that it doesn’t worsen or become chronic.