The pandemic has been hard on all of us, but senior citizens have been significantly impacted in several ways.
Dr. Amy Khan, executive medical director for Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah says, “Elderly persons have been disproportionately affected, in part because these are the folks who are most likely to be represented among those with severe illness, hospitalization, and among the deaths due to COVID-19.”
Khan says many seniors saw a dramatic change in their lives over the past year and getting back to normal may not be easy for some.
“The pandemic has not only changed their routines, but changed how they get medical care, procedures and forced their adoption of technologies.”
According to a study from the Kaiser Foundation, last May one out of three seniors were worried or felt stress about the pandemic. By July, that number was one out of two.
“Seniors in a way have had a double pandemic, not only due to COVID but also due to loneliness,” says Khan.
She says as things return to normal, it’s crucial to support the seniors in our lives to help them re-emerge from the pandemic safely and successfully.
There are also things that seniors can do to help ease the stress that may arise as things get back to normal. Some ideas include:
“Seniors can empower themselves during this period of re-emergence, re-engagement. Get outside. Start a walking program. Schedule lunch with a friend,” says Khan.
Other ideas include trying a new hobby, practicing coping mechanisms like mindfulness, deep breathing and positive thinking.
Khan says it’s also important for seniors to talk about some of the feelings or fears they have about getting out again. “Trying to make real what’s been happening so we can all move forward and be comforted by each other.”
And even though the pandemic is winding down, seniors can stay connected to family and friends through technology for additional support.
Khan also suggests now as a good time to follow up with doctor’s appointments or other routine medical checkups that may have been missed during the pandemic.
“It has been a long, long time. Everybody’s anxious and excited to get back together again and we need to support the seniors in our life by rejoining them in all of the activities we're looking forward to doing this summer,” says Khan.