The pandemic has had its effect on just about everyone this year. As businesses close and the government requires everyone to stay at home, isolation, and loneliness become a severe mental health concern.
The elderly are among the less-known but certainly impacted group that are facing mental health challenges. These people are among the most susceptible to developing depression or anxiety at this difficult time. Thankfully, assisted living staff have found ways to improve conditions for these people, and they have had success in keeping their elderly residents happy and healthy despite the strife.
Isolation During the COVID Pandemic
Closed businesses and stay-at-home orders mean no more visitors for these elderly residents. While families used to come by periodically, they are no longer able to, given the circumstances. This absence of family time poses a severe threat to the elderly in assisted living. Now at the later stages of life, the mental and emotional strain of loneliness can take its toll.
Signs of Depression
The assisted living center staff should look for signs of depression and anxiety among their residents and improve these symptoms. Some common symptoms of depression are lack of appetite, difficulty sleeping, loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy. These signs should not be taken lightly. They indicate the person needs help.
How Assisted Living Helps
Though the situation has taken away many of the remedies for depression once available, staff can take the creative initiative to help their residents. These methods are small, everyday favors and services for the residents that give them hope, keep them company, and emotionally healthy.
The goal is to maintain a sense of community for these seniors, among themselves, the staff, and their families. Staff members can help maintain the need for deep relationships and social interaction despite everyone having to stay physically distant. This sense of community ultimately protects the residents and could even save their lives.
Facetime is an excellent way for a resident to feel their family’s presence that they might miss so dearly now that visits are likely no longer allowed. Staff can help residents by assisting them with these video calls to stay connected with their families.
These calls reduce anxiety, provide a sense of purpose, and give residents comfort. The technology the younger generation takes for granted might be technology these people aren’t aware of. They’ll be overjoyed to find out they can stay in contact with their family and friends.
The traditional mailing methods are now a new and great way for families and residents to stay in touch. Residents love receiving letters and packages from their loved ones. Families can get creative with gifts or letters that they send. This mail gives the elderly something to look forward to and be excited about, and it also gives them an outlet for creativity.
Card games and board games have always been a great source of bonding among friends. These games are a great way for those in assisted living to keep their minds off the pandemic’s daily struggles and remind them of the people who are present.
These may come as a surprise, but creating bucket lists are a great way for staff to improve the mental health of those in assisted living. Some elderly may feel they no longer have anything to look forward to in life and therefore have no purpose.
Inviting the elderly to create a bucket list gives them something more to aim for while they’re still alive. These goals help them have a sense of optimism and encourage them to strive for these goals. Bucket lists create a new perspective on life that helps the person see more life to live.
Protect Mental Health
Overall, protecting mental health for the people in assisted living should be a primary goal for staff members.
There are other small ways staff can help maintain a positive environment. For example, staff might consider cutting down the amount of time the news is on the residents’ televisions to hear. The staff could strike up more conversations with residents to check in on them or invite them to do activities together.
It is undoubtedly a difficult time for everyone these days. Those isolated in assisted living have it especially difficult as they face the challenges of their living condition and the pandemic. Staff members can work together to help these people get through this challenging time.
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- The Hamlets COVID-19 Prevention and Response - August 18, 2020