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Ways to Relieve Seniors’ Anxiety About Returning to Normal

April 29, 2021


Group of seniors standing on lawn

Every day you will hear more about reopening schedules for businesses, movie theaters, theme parks and more as the world appears to be turning the corner on COVID-19 and valuable vaccinations are being delivered.

In a time like this, uncertainty and anxiety are to be expected. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America, also known as the ADAA, says that 40 million people suffer from anxiety disorders even in normal times. Seniors who are more susceptible to illness can be nervous about reuniting with family and friends. Here are ways you should think about supporting older adults with coronavirus anxiety about returning to normal.

Pay attention to their fears and emotions

Do not ignore them if they are having problems like the ones mentioned above. Encourage them to express their worries and concerns by actively listening to them. Allowing them to know that what they are going through is natural will help comfort them, which will reduce their anxiety.

Do not be in a hurry

If your loved one is experiencing home quarantine anxiety, encourage them to socialize at their own pace. Begin by reaching out to their immediate group of friends or relatives. Limit yourself to a small number of popular locations, maybe focusing on wide-open spaces. If they are not ready for face-to-face communication, have them speak with a different person over the phone or online each day.

Encourage them to practice mindfulness

Encourage them to develop mental-clearing and anxiety-reduction techniques. Meditation, counseling, prayer or journaling may be among the options for some. For others, music, an audio book or even a relaxing bath will help them relax.

Encourage them to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle

Exercise has been shown to have a positive impact on mental and physical well-being in seniors. Senior aerobics videos or online chair yoga at home can help seniors who regularly attend fitness classes at senior centers or go for walks. At Hollenbeck Palms, we have a variety of exhilarating activities that stimulate the mind and body.

Be mindful of their nervousness

COVID-19 anxiety symptoms differ from person to person. Anxiety in older adults may result in low-level pain, such as a racing heart or rapid breathing. They can also have panic attacks or show a fear of losing power in some situations. Be on the lookout for signs of distress in the elderly and be ready to console them.

Keep an eye on what they’re learning

Scams and false information about COVID-19 are more common among the elderly. Some forms of communication can guarantee financial security in the face of a bleak future. False news stories containing unverified details may also trigger stress and anxiety in senior citizens. Assist the senior in your care by directing them to reputable news outlets for COVID-19 updates to ensure they are not misled.

Consider what they have control over

Power is on the other side of the anxiety-inducing confusion. Help them find more productive ways to spend their time. Having power over situations can help people feel less anxious.

Remind them of a time when they were happier

If your loved one must stay alone for the time being, recommend things that will lift their spirits and bring back memories of happier times. This takes their attention away from the current confusion.

Stick to the same routine

Allow them to finish breakfast before turning on the news to alleviate early-morning anxiety. For those who may be experiencing dementia symptoms, a set dinnertime will help to reduce the symptoms of Sundowners Syndrome. The return to a regular schedule will make them feel more connected and less nervous.

Remind them to be cautious

Remind them that wearing masks, washing their hands and maintaining social distance can reduce their reentry anxiety. Even if they’ve been vaccinated, this is valid. This will give them trust in knowing they’re doing whatever they can to protect themselves and their loved ones. This can make it easier for older adults to control their anxiety symptoms.

At Hollenbeck Palms, we take safety very seriously. Throughout the pandemic we have worked diligently to keep out residents and staff safe, and we are now a fully vaccinated campus.

Make sure to check out this webinar featuring Dr. Keiko Ikeda, a Geriatric Psychologist, who discusses her time at Hollenbeck Palms with residents during the pandemic.