COVID 19: A Big Worry For Senior Citizens

By Dr. Samir Parikh, Director Department of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences, Fortis National Mental Health Program

Amidst the worries and concerns about COVID 19, one of the major sections of the population being affected at present is that of the geriatric population. With the kind of concerns related to the elderly who are being detected positive for this novel virus, especially in the presence of prior medical conditions, it undoubtedly becomes a major stressor in itself.

Being informed of accurate facts is essential. Not just for us, but especially for the elderly. Often, such generations may not be tech savvy, or social media savvy. Therefore, staying indoors, and cut-off from their existing social circuits, it becomes the responsibility of the family members to ensure that the elders are informed and updated of the actual facts. Remember, clear communication is important. Hiding information lest they worry is only likely to add to their sense of uncertainty around them.

Try to ensure their routine is intact, as much as possible. In order to minimize their worries, we could make an extra effort to ensure that their indoor routine remains the same as prior to the lockdown, as much as possible. This could include meal timings, sleep routine, or even their time to be left to themselves.

Spending quality family time. This is an unprecedented situation, wherein we have time at home. Therefore, utilize this time to help re-connect with the family members with whom we usually may not get the time during our hectic routines. Make this family time filled with as much fun and positivity as possible, within the restraints of the house, of course. Finding meaning in such small moments each day can go a long way in adding to a sense of hope and positivity for all of us.

Help the elderly be socially connected. In spite of the social distancing, remember that this distance is only on physical terms. Therefore, emotionally, we need to make extra efforts to be connected with our near and dear ones help the elderly also reach out to their peers and relatives, friends and family!
Be involved with them.

Often, the elderly may lack the memory or alertness due to age-related cognitive decline. Regardless, this is an opportunity for the youngsters of the family to take an initiative and become more involved with the elderly of the house. Be it in their daily routines, or in new family activities.

Be around them more, so as to help them cope better with the social quarantine, as well as also be there to remind them of the necessary precautions to be taken in terms of safety and cleanliness. This will also go a long way in adding to their sense of happiness in the long term, while also help teach the young ones a sense of altruism and collective responsibility beginning within their own families.

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