As the coronavirus continues for almost a year now, it can still be difficult for older adults to see any end to the need for isolation. Wherein, the need for social isolation also comes with loneliness with it. For months now, they’ve been following public health advice to lessen their risk of exposure by isolating themselves in their homes. Also, sheltering at home for months now has meant being away from friends, other relatives, and the places that kept them active.
Inadvertently, the safety protocols of the coronavirus outbreak have created new health risks for older adults. However, public health officials look closely at this potential risk for them to minimize the unintended consequences.
How Social Isolation Affects Human Health
Before the coronavirus outbreak, there’s a national study that shows about one-third of middle-aged and older adults experienced loneliness. Also, there are nearly a quarter of older Americans who were socially isolated. Having limited social connections is associated with myriad health-related disorders such as;
- Psychiatric disorders
- Chronic diseases
Social distancing, as what everyone is experiencing was never meant to stop social connections. On the other hand, several family members, neighbors, and friends are staying away to prevent exposing their loved ones to the virus. While it protects your loved ones from some health risks, the limited physical interactions lessen feelings of connectedness with other people. Without meaningful and regular social interactions and stimulation, the cognitive functioning of older adults is more susceptible to anxiety and depression. Staying at home can also make it difficult harder to engage in healthy lifestyles. As well as exercise or lack of physical activity can weaken their muscles and leaves them more prone to falling. While not everyone will see the same impacts, older adults are most likely to be affected.
What Older Adults Can Do
Older adults can take steps on their own to stay engaged and active:
- Plan The Day: During a pandemic, the days seem to be an endless blur. Keep up the daily routine by getting out of bed, get dressed, and be engaged with small activities.
- Stay Active: Find a physical activity that can be done at home. There are lots of physical activities available online that can nurture connection and engagement.
- Leave Home Wisely: Various guidelines emphasize what older adults can do to stay safe when leaving home. Practice preventive actions such as wearing face masks, having hand sanitizer on hand, and keeping social distancing.
- Don’t Be Selfish: Reach for others regularly who might need to hear a friendly voice over the phone. It has been shown to have several positive health benefits.
- Accept Help From Others: There are lots of individuals that work hard to keep older adults stay connected. Remain open to accept kindness and support from friends, family members, health care providers, and social service agencies.
For older adults, stay healthy, safe, and connected while following the health guidelines given by our health experts. Our national and local governments as well as health officials’ efforts to continue stop the spread of the infection. They also take into account the importance of social connectivity to maintain the physical and mental health of older adults.