I viewed a webinar on YouTube called “Older Adults and Isolation During COVID-19.” It was presented by Mental Health America, a community-based nonprofit organization. Dr. Patrick Henry from the organization states that “Loneliness is a major barrier to good health to everyone and it presents some unique and severe implications for older adults". Dr. Henry goes onto say that 20% of older adults most likely experienced mental health problems, primarily depression, prior to COVID-19.
Loneliness hurts our brains physically in the same area where we experience pain, according to Dr. Henry. When people interact with friends, however, their self-worth increases.
So, what can we do to increase interaction between ourselves and our loved ones who are in lockdown during this crisis? The speaker, and this writer, recommend the following:
· Set-up regular communication plans at set times, so that they are aware and can plan for your call.
· If your loved one has a computer, set-up times to touch base by Skype, or Zoom. If they do not know how to set that up, ask the facility to do it for them, or tell them and provide a link.
· FaceTime on your phone.
· Ask friends and family to send cards and letters via snail mail. Have children of friends/family draw pictures and send them to your loved one.
· Have family and friends meet at a certain time outside of the facility to sing, hold signs up, dance, set off balloons, etc.
C. S. Lewis, the Christian writer, said “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”