The global coronavirus pandemic has put senior wellness and health at the forefront of conversations in family homes, hospitals, and even grocery stores. Because older adults are especially vulnerable to serious complications from COVID-19, the extra attention to keeping them as safe as possible has been a wise decision. However, many family members and medical professionals are also seeing the side effects of social isolation for older adults: depression, anxiety, and general loneliness are on the rise.

Two common types of senior living communities are assisted living and memory care. These two options share enough similarities for family members to often wonder which is the best for their loved ones. Though each situation is unique and should be evaluated as such, there are some indicators that could help point you in the right direction.

Social Distancing vs. Social Isolation

Older adults and their family members, along with the rest of the globe, have been practicing social distancing in order to decrease the risk of spreading germs. Unfortunately, social distancing can quickly lead to feelings of social isolation and loneliness. For seniors, social isolation and loneliness can lead to both physical and mental health repercussions, including increased risk of depression, anxiety, obesity, and even death.

To keep the senior in your life feeling connected to others while still decreasing the risk of coronavirus transmission, remember that social distancing does not mean to avoid older adults completely. You can still visit your loved one outdoors while maintaining 6 feet of space. Encourage them to wave to the mail delivery person or to neighbors walking their dogs. These small and simple interactions can keep older adults feeling connected to those around them without increasing their risk of contracting coronavirus.

Mental Health Checkups

Seniors with a history of depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions may not be scheduling or attending regular checkups with their counselor, psychiatrist, or other mental health professional. Unfortunately, this lack of follow-up can lead to medication problems or mean that older adults are not getting the assistance they need to stay mentally well.

If your senior loved one has a history of depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions, or if you are worried that they are showing signs of depression or anxiety, consider helping them schedule a telehealth or virtual visit with a mental health professional. Most insurance companies are loosening guidelines on virtual visits in light of COVID-19, and mental health checkups  via telehealth technology can be quite effective.

Caregiver Support

Seniors who once relied on the weekly visits of an in-home caregiver or meal drop-offs from senior service agencies are especially vulnerable to complications during the coronavirus pandemic. Without regular support with grocery shopping, cleaning, or other household tasks, seniors living at home alone can end up feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. Even worse, they may end up eating food that is not nutritious or forgetting to drink enough to stay hydrated. 

Regular visits from caregivers, whether they’re family or professionals, give seniors the help they need to stay healthy for another week. Without these visits, a senior’s mental and physical health can quickly decline. Family members can help by making additional phone calls and video chat check-ins, as well as finding ways to help while still maintaining social distancing.

Senior Living Solutions

Older adults who are feeling especially lonely or struggling with being at home alone during this challenging time can thrive in senior living communities. Though daily routines at senior living communities throughout the country look a bit different because of the coronavirus, these communities are still safe and welcoming new residents.

At Arbor communities, we continue to ensure that our residents are safe and engaged. We want them to remain physically and mentally healthy so that we can all celebrate together when the time is right. 

Learn more about choosing the best senior living community for you or your loved one by downloading our free resource, “Finding a Safe & Comfortable Senior Living Community.”

Remember to check in on your loved ones and keep their physical and mental health needs at the forefront of your family decisions.

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