While COVID-19 has affected everybody in a variety of different ways, it has hit the senior demographic particularly hard. From large communities to individual caregivers, the stress of the pandemic has proven to be uniquely devastating to this population.
The Pressure on Senior Communities
Everyone, especially businesses, has had to take extra measures in light of the coronavirus – but senior communities are taking these “extra measures” to the extreme.
Because the virus is so threatening to the elderly, even minor errors can be dangerous. Many communities have had to cancel regular group events; serve meals in residents’ individual bedrooms; and temporarily ban visitors.
Though these precautions are necessary, they can enhance feelings of loneliness and seclusion.
The Pressure on Caregivers
Once the coronavirus became more widespread throughout the country, it was common for many seniors to move out of their assisted living communities and in with their loved ones. Caregiving is a difficult enough job; but a life-threatening virus has, for obvious reasons, put so much more stress onto those caring for seniors.
In an effort to socially distance and prevent bringing outside germs into contact with their loved ones, many caregivers are having to separate themselves from others even more so than before. And any sort of respite, such as adult day care or home care, may be considered too risky. Or, it may not even be an option at all if those local companies have temporarily shut down.
Though it’s a safe move, it can make caregivers feel even more isolated … and oftentimes, therefore, more depressed.
How to Cope
Senior communities: While still maintaining safe guidelines, many communities have found ways to remain social yet distant. They’ve had to cancel traditional community events, for example; but some staff members have found ways to keep residents connected with each other. Hallway bingo, anyone?
And in terms of visitors, many facilities put up a plexiglass wall between the resident and the loved one so that they can still interact face to face without the risk of spreading germs.
Caregivers: Social distance is crucial for the safety of their loved one; but finding ways to remain connected to others is crucial for the caregivers’ own sanity. Phone calls, video chats, or even a socially distant porch happy hour can help fill the void of traditional human interaction.
And if there’s ever been a time to prioritize self-care – a warm bath, a favorite movie, and some good, old-fashioned me time – it’s now.