What You Need to Know…
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a difficult time for most, thus far. We have all been impacted physically, mentally, emotionally and socially. Fortunately, during this time of social & physical distancing, a lot of us are trying to stay connected over social media, texting, WhatsApp, FaceTime and more online platforms.
Unfortunately, senior citizens are particularly vulnerable during this time of social & physical distancing. A lot of them have limited access to internet and computer applications. In addition, many seniors establish daily routines based on timings of exercise classes, nap times, meal times, group events and places of worship. For many senior citizens, their primary network of socializing and friendships has unexpectedly and indefinitely fallen apart. During this time, support for our seniors is very much needed as this disruption in daily routines at this age can impact physical, mental, social and emotional health in this particular demographic.
Our seniors may not only be living in their own home, but may also be residing in seniors’ homes, long-term care facilities, retirement residences and more. At these facilities, social distancing measures have been implemented for public health and safety. This means that an already vulnerable segment of our population is now more vulnerable to loneliness and isolation.
Medical research has shown that there is a correlation between loneliness/isolation & anxiety/depression. The higher the degree of loneliness and isolation, the higher the likelihood of developing and progressing mental health conditions; most commonly, depression. With the current pandemic circumstances, mental health is of the utmost importance. We have learned this from the variety of programs being offered to Canadians through federal and provincial governments.
Medical Research has shown:
- Seniors that are provided with person-centred care in the form of personal, recreation & social needs are less likely to feel lonely
- Cognitive decline, hopelessness, social isolation and reduced independence are all outcomes of loneliness
- Increased feelings of loneliness are directly correlated to increased feelings of depression
- A sense of belonging within a community and sharing common interest can help prevent negative effects of “social isolation”
How Can You Help?
STAY (VIRTUALLY) CONNECTED. Call your elderly parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles & family friends. Ask them how they are doing, offer to play word games, tell stories, pray, read, sing, etc. over the phone. A genuine conversation can really bring positivity and light to that individual.
Professional Government Resources:
The Alberta Health Services webpage has incredible resources in place to help seniors & the vulnerable. Please visit: www.ahs.ca/COVID , for more information.
Andrew N et al (2018) Fulfilled preferences, perceived control, life satisfaction, and loneliness in elderly long-term care residents, Aging & Mental Health, 22:2, 183-189, DOI: 10.1080/13607863.2016.1244804
Aylaz R et al (2012) Relationship between depression and loneliness in elderly and examination of influential factors, Archives of Gerontology & Geriatrics, 55:3, 548-554, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.archger.2012.03.006
Hicks T (2000) What is Your Life Like Now?: Loneliness and elderly individuals residing in nursing homes, Journal of Gerontological Nursing, 26:8, 15-19, DOI: 10.3928/0098-9134-20000801-05 [link]
Lapena C et al (2020) Qualitative evaluation of a community-based intervention to reduce social isolation among older people in disadvantaged urban areas of Barcelona, Journal of Health & Society Care in the Community, DOI: 10.1111/hsc.12971
Lopez MJ et al (2019) Community intervention to reduce social isolation in older adults in disadvantaged urban areas: study protocol for a mixed methods multi-approach evaluation, BioMed Central Geriatrics, 19:1, DOI 10.1186/s12877-019-1055-9
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