While focusing on things like accident avoidance, sun exposure and water safety is always worth a reminder, this summer is unique. We are seeing signs of recovery following the global pandemic, after having spent more than a year focused on safety protocols related to COVID-19. So this summer, in addition to all the summer safety tips, there are some other safety topics that deserve heightened focus.
Consider, for example, the impact the pandemic has had on mental health. One study published in BMC Public Health in February 2021 states that “31% of … participants reported low mental well-being.” For many, safety this summer may include seeking mental health services.
Further complicating the mental health picture is the lack of physical activity that many have experienced during the pandemic. An article from Science Direct stresses the risks associated with physical inactivity, the impact on our bodies and the resulting comorbidities that can result. Increasing physical activity to pre-pandemic levels should be a priority for all as a true safety measure this summer.
What about the unique issues of seniors and caregivers? Caregiving, well-known as a major stressor, has been made more difficult during the pandemic. According to the CDC, “women who are caregivers have a greater risk for poor physical and mental health, including depression and anxiety. The COVID-19 pandemic can add even more stressors to caregiving.” In addition, more than 40% of caregivers suffer from depression, and nearly 60% of caregivers for those living with dementia say the emotional stress of caregiving is high or very high. Safety for caregivers this summer should include seeking some relief from these responsibilities.
Caregivers aren’t the only ones feeling the mental and emotional effects of the pandemic. The emotional strain of social isolation among seniors has been explored for years, and this condition has only been exacerbated by lockdowns and quarantine measures. As we proceed into June and its focus on safety, it’s vital that we address the burgeoning epidemic of loneliness among seniors, which some studies have posited is as detrimental to health as 15 cigarettes a day.
Brookdale is uniquely equipped to address needs of seniors and their caregivers. To address immediate relief for caregivers, a respite stay may be best while families evaluate needs and options. Brookdale offers this and can help assess needs, whether it’s in one of our communities full time, at home with home health or help with personal or concierge services. It could also be the case where some basic wellness appointments, specialist visits or attention to chronic conditions were not addressed consistently during the pandemic. We are here to try to get things back on track and to help.
Taking a comprehensive and holistic approach to a resident’s well-being is a key component to our population health approach. Optimum Life® is how we frame well-being. We meet each resident where they are across six dimensions: intellectual, emotional, physical, purposeful, spiritual and social. No two care plans are exactly the same, just as no two seniors are the same.
This month as we place an extra focus on safety, it’s important to look beyond the obvious and think about how we can address some of the subtler needs of the population we serve, whether that be through advocacy, instruction, education or programming that supports residents in this aspect of their care. After all, a focus on safety that’s divorced from the idea of living a purposeful, connected life is only addressing half the picture. A well-rounded, holistic approach is just as critical to positive health outcomes as managing medications, addressing chronic conditions and even more robust safety measures.
To learn more about how Brookdale is focusing on helping seniors in the recovery phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, check out our website.