Is Coronavirus Affecting Your Mental Health? Tips for Seniors and Caregivers on Stress and Anxiety

Note: The following is shared for informational purposes only.  We are not infectious disease experts and you should consult with trusted, independent, reputable sources and your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you have a medical condition or are at increased risk for contracting COVID-19.  The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical or health advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never disregard professional medical or health advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on our site.

Know the Signs

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends keeping an eye out for signs that could signal stress, including:

  • Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
  • Worsening of chronic health problems
  • Worsening of mental health conditions
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs

*Tip for Caregivers: Some people don’t know they’re being affected. Look for changes in your loved one so you can be proactive about getting help.

 

Talk About Your Feelings

The tricky thing about stress and anxiety (or any mental health disorder) is you may not feel comfortable talking about these feelings. Know that mental health conditions are not your fault, and that it’s normal to feel fear and anxiety about a disease.

*Tip for Caregivers: Your loved one may not talk to you about their feelings. Gently ask them questions. Let them know their feelings are normal and there’s nothing to be ashamed about.

 

Support Yourself

You can use some of our suggestions to help implement the CDC’s advice on how to support yourself and help manage stress and anxiety. 

Take breaks from COVID-19 news updates. It can be hard to hear about the pandemic all of the time.

  • Exercise. Practice breathing, stretching or meditating along with regular exercise. There are many workout programs you can try from the comfort of your home. Obé Fitness has free workout programs designed for seniors that require minimal or no equipment.

  • Eat well-balanced meals. Add superfoods to your grocery list (even if your groceries are being delivered to you) and start your morning right with superfood breakfast recipes.

  • Get plenty of sleep and avoid alcohol and unnecessary drugs, but don’t stop taking medications prescribed by your doctor. Having trouble sleeping? Apps on your phone or tablet can provide soothing background noises. iPhone and iPad users can download White Noise Lite for free in the Apple App store and access sounds like rain, streams, fans, hair dryers, crickets and many more.

  • Make time to unwind. Read a book, watch a new TV show, draw or write in a journal. Find an activity that makes you happy.

  • Connect with others. Talk about your feelings with people you trust. Technology helps keep us connected, even from our homes. Use video call features like FaceTime on your iPhone or download free video chat apps like Skype and Google Duo on all devices.

  • Call your healthcare provider if your mental health interferes with your daily activities for more than a few days in a row. If you’re a Brookdale resident, a loved one of a resident or want to understand your senior care options, you can contact us any time.

*Tip for Caregivers: Even remotely, you can help your loved one set up new technology and sign up for food delivery services.

 

Support Others

Believe it or not, you can help relieve stress by sharing the facts about COVID-19. Sharing accurate information with the people you care about allows you to connect with them.

  • Talk about the facts. In addition to the CDC, the World Health Organization (WHO) is a great place to find information.

  • Share stories of resilience. Most people find resilience after a disaster, and your age is your strength when it comes to this. You’ve likely bounced back many times before and have the wisdom to know that we can overcome this, too. Share your stories with younger generations (through calls and video chats, of course).

*Tip for Caregivers: If your loved one is open to it, ask them to share news updates about COVID-19 or their stories of resilience in the past.

 

Be Flexible With Yourself and Others

This is uncharted territory, so it’s okay if we all feel differently. You will likely hear a lot of advice right now, and that’s great. But it’s important to remember to do what feels right for you. For example, some people may feel better if they get dressed every morning, but there’s nothing wrong with staying in your sweatpants if that’s what you prefer.

*Tip for Caregivers: When you share advice, let your loved one know that they aren’t wrong for not following it or feeling differently.

 

 

Our hearts go out to the families and communities affected by this pandemic, and we continue working to provide a happy, healthy environment for our residents. See all that we’re doing in response to COVID-19. Not seeing what you’re looking for? WHO and the CDC are sources for trusted and updated information on COVID-19.

 

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