COVID-19 impacting the mental health of senior citizens

COVID-19 impacting the mental health of senior citizens

COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) -Senior citizens are the most susceptible to catch the coronavirus.

Even though the shelter-in-place orders for those 65 and up have been lifted in Georgia, many choose to continue to stay home to avoid contracting COVID-19.

Loneliness is the number one thing people are seeing from seniors in the area. If gone unchecked, it could lead to depression or seniors not eating or taking care of themselves. Fortunately, there are activities seniors can participate in that may bring a smile or two to their faces, and to others.

”If they are engaged, they are going to be happier,” said Steve Vinson with Magnolia Manor in Columbus. “If they are happier then they are also healthier.”

Skype or FaceTiming your elderly loved one, taking the time to bake them a yummy snack, or even a quick phone call to say “hello” are all ways to help keep senior citizens engaged in the midst of the pandemic, according to Vinson.

Seniors at home quarantining can also stay in communication with their family and friends by getting crafty.

“People love something that they can tangibly see and touch. That makes all the difference in the world for them. It does not have to be a store bought card. Why not a hand made card or a hand written note,” Vinson said.

Vinson said for seniors who live in their own homes, they can take up hobbies like trying a new recipe or picking up a paintbrush. Vinson also suggests opening up the bible and reading a scripture or two.

“If you are not providing care for the mental or the spiritual aspects of that individual, then one-third or two-third of that person’s life is being ignored,” he said.

Vinson said the social distancing effects of COVID-19 seems to be the heaviest burden weighing on senior citizens.

While there is no substitute for a hug, he said everyone can at least do this much to help keep the elderly population safe.

“Socially distance, wear your PPE, and be smart.” he said.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp extended the shelter in place orders for the “medically fragile” seniors. Those with lung disease, asthma, heart disease, and those who are immunocompromised must remain on lock down until July 12.

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