How to Combat Loneliness in the Elderly Post-Covid
With nearly 70 percent of Americans over the age of 65 now fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, older adults are slowly resuming their normal lives. They’re able to hug their loved ones and attend social functions with those who are fully vaccinated. But if there’s one thing that we’ve learned from this all, it’s that social isolation and loneliness are major concerns for older Americans.
The Importance of Social Connectedness
Everyone needs social connections to thrive. When we’re younger, these connections are naturally built into our everyday lives through work, school, hobbies, extracurriculars, support groups and more. But as we get older, we tend to spend more time alone.
Studies show that loneliness and social isolation can affect our health and well-being. They are associated with higher risks of cognitive decline, depression and heart disease. Adults who are lonely or socially isolated are also less healthy, have longer hospital stays and are readmitted more often.
Combating Loneliness in the Elderly Post-COVID
Even though COVID has not been eliminated, there is light at the end of the tunnel. As long as people are fully vaccinated and spending time with other fully vaccinated people, the risk for transmission is low.
As you reintegrate back into society, here are some helpful tips to follow:
Move at your own pace.
Some people have no trouble jumping back into things, but the process is slower for others. You have full control over how you re-enter society, so take things at your own pace. Your brain will be less anxious when you feel that you have control over your life.
Play out certain situations.
Sometimes it can help to imagine yourself in certain situations so that you can be prepared. Imaginable exposure helps people with anxiety confront their fears and anxieties. The goal is to eliminate avoidance behaviors and increase quality of life.
Be selective about the things you choose.
You may not want to participate in the same activities that you did before COVID-19, and that’s OK. You don’t need to pick everything back up. In fact, now is a good time to build a life around the things you truly enjoy.
Give yourself grace.
Even though it feels good to get back to normal, that doesn’t mean you’ll always feel positive. It’s okay to experience a wide range of emotions such as guilt, anger, grief and anxiety. It takes time to recover, so allow yourself to feel these emotions.
You get to choose your boundaries. Decide what you are comfortable with, and share this with others. For example, if someone in your family is not vaccinated, you may request that they wear a mask or stay outdoors (or both) when they come to visit.
VNA Health Group Offers Home Health Care Services
VNA Health Group provides a wide range of health care services to those in need. While we are glad to see things improving, we also realize that COVID-19 was a traumatic experience for many. VNA nurses provide individualized health & wellness assessments and disease prevention and detection coaching so older adults can focus on living life to their fullest. Contact us today to learn about our convenient home health services, visiting physician services and behavioral health services. They can help you make a smooth and safe transition back into society.
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