Protecting Mental and Physical Health in Seniors During the COVID-19 Pandemic | Family Tree In-Home Care 1
Nurse helping a senior man maintain his mental and physical health with exercise.

The current crisis of COVID-19 has brought significant change to all our lives. From having to alter our daily routines due to social distancing rules and stay-at-home orders, the subsequent stress caused by these changes may, at times, go unnoticed. However, science indicates that stress is not only damaging to our physical health, implicated in several serious issues such as cardiac distress and high blood pressure, but stress can also affect our mental health. Stress can cause us to experience decreased mood and increased anxiety. As a matter of fact, the link between mental health and physical health has been extensively researched.

If someone is dealing with mental challenges, he may be less likely to be motivated to get physical activity or attend to nutritional needs and, as a result, suffer from poor physical health. Conversely, someone who may be struggling with health issues may suffer from depression.

Concerning seniors, it has been shown that their perceptions of their physical health affect the way they feel. This illustrates the crucial need to help seniors improve both their physical and mental health during these stressful times for overall well-being

When it comes to COVID-19 and seniors, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that older adults are not only at higher risk of developing more severe illnesses associated with the disease, but they are also at increased risk of stress due to the condition. This stress can also exacerbate existing health conditions.

So, what can be done to protect the mental and physical health of this most vulnerable population? Below are some activities that Family Tree In-Home Care can help seniors to engage in, which can help to care for their bodies and their minds.

Activities to Boost Mood and Improve Health

For the Mind

Reading – Adopting a habit of reading for pleasure is a way to boost your mood. People who read for only 30 minutes a week expressed benefits such as high self-esteem, greater life satisfaction, and more creativity.

Doing puzzles – Challenging for the mind, puzzles increase dopamine production, causing you to feel happy.

Staying connected – Although in-person visits may not be possible at this time, it is still crucial to maintain meaningful relationships. Stay connected through online methods or old-fashioned letter writing.

Limit news coverage – Keeping abreast of changing conditions due to COVID-19 is vital, but viewing news constantly can be a source of anxiety.

Maintain a routine – Though it may be difficult to keep the routine you once had, maintaining a level of predictability in your day will help to decrease the stress associated with the persistent uncertainty in your environment.

For the Body

Exercising – Getting physical activity boosts mood and offers long-lasting benefits. Also, seniors who participate in regular physical activity report improved well-being and better quality of life.

Sleep – Insufficient sleep can be a result of anxiety. Preserving good sleep habits during this time is especially crucial to reducing anxiety and improving mental and physical functioning.

Eat a balanced diet – As stress affects people in different ways, this can lead to poor eating habits such as overeating, not eating enough, or not maintaining a well-balanced diet. Ensure that you are eating foods that promote healthy immune function such as plenty of fruits, vegetables, and protein. Additionally, drinking adequate water is essential.

Follow recommended guidelines – Specifically for seniors who are most at risk for COVID-19, they must continue to follow the guidelines as recommended to reduce the risk of infection. Some things you can do to protect yourself are to wash your hands often, stay home when possible, practice social distancing, wear a cloth mask when in public areas with others, avoid being around those that are sick, and disinfect surfaces in your home.

Find More Activities to Protect Seniors’ Mental and Physical Health 

These times are challenging for us all, but they can be especially difficult for seniors. If you or an elderly loved one is experiencing mental or physical health challenges, our private caregivers at Family Tree In-Home Care are available to offer support and companionship to those in need. Experienced in providing compassionate care to seniors, they can help to educate and engage your loved one in the activities above for better health. Contact us today to learn more about the services they offer.