The changes brought on by the pandemic were devastating. The elderly population were among the most heavily affected due to lack of resources, vulnerability to disease, increased isolation, depression, and loss of financial security. There have been stark increases in depression and anxiety, especially with extended lockdowns. Grandparents could not have visitations and be hugged by their grandchildren. However, hope is on the horizon as the COVID-19 vaccine continues to be distributed. One thing is for certain, this pandemic has shown how vital and important community is for seniors, social connections and support systems are to a Senior’s health and happiness.
How the Pandemic Has Affected Senior Health
COVID-19 is especially life-threatening to Seniors. They have decreased immune function, higher risk of comorbidities along with the mental effects of strict lockdowns and losing social support.
Seniors experienced an increase in “digital” and technological changes. The move to video chat, facetime, Zoom and online communication was swift and inevitable. Seniors unfamiliar with this technology were even more isolated. Not only do Seniors experience a lack of access to technology, but they are less likely to have technical skills. This has also posed a significant problem for those trying to schedule appointments as more and more medical offices moved to online scheduling.
The mental and physical effects following the lockdown measures were numerous. Mentally, Seniors experienced increased levels of depression, anxiety and cognitive decline. Socially, they missed their daily community activities and physically, their daily exercises or workout routines. Falls increased and muscle strength declined. Studies have shown frequent social activity helps mitigate and maintain mental alertness. Those who had social ties and personal connections were more likely to have access to medical resources as loved ones noticed mental or physical changes.
The Importance of Support for Colorado Seniors
We are social creatures. We crave family, love, connection, and companionship. This drastic change in community for Seniors was detrimental to mental health and, in turn, physical health. People who have social connections and participate in meaningful social activities live longer, have improved mood state, and a sense of purpose.
Aurora Colorado, saw the importance of connection and how the actions of one individual makes a huge difference for our Seniors. A local caricaturist, Mark Hall, drew the residents of the Chelsea Place Memory Care Community. In an effort to connect and display the residents’ special interests and personalities, Hall sat with each resident to not only sketch them but bring their personal stories and identity to life. According to the life engagement director this was a huge boost for the Seniors, as they were accustomed to artists, music and regular activities before the pandemic. By taking the time to do this small act of kindness, the artist was able to reconnect with these Seniors and bring a sense of happiness and self-worth to the residents.
It is crucial for the health of our Seniors to prioritize personal connections with them. Visiting while still practicing the proper social distancing measures and protocol, makes an incredible difference in the everyday happiness of any Senior. Send gift baskets of their favorite foods or games, talk with them often, teach them how to use video chat and other media to stay connected.
At Bridge to Better Living Denver, we invest in our Seniors. We know personal connections, passionate guidance, and unwavering support is important for any Senior making a transition to a retirement community. Contact us today for peace of mind and educated, passionate consulting.