It has been more than six months since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The restrictions which have been put in place to emphasize safety can start to wear on all of us, and while there is a natural craving to want to “get back to normal,” there is a new issue: helping seniors cope with pandemic fatigue.
Pandemic fatigue stems from wanting to control the numerous overwhelming emotions we’ve been going through, such as anxiousness, fear, loneliness and isolation, and hopelessness. It’s fatiguing and draining, and can display as:
- Difficulties with getting adequate sleep and/or eating appropriately
- Trouble with focusing
- Withdrawing from those we care about
- Becoming more argumentative or having a “short fuse”
- Feelings of nervousness, edginess, and diminished motivation
- Struggling with racing thoughts
The balance between preserving the physical safety and health we achieve by self-isolating, and also the emotional health we realize through socialization and participating in meaningful activities, isn’t easy to navigate. We’ve provided some suggestions to help both you and the older adults you love:
- Acknowledge and accept your feelings. A variety of emotions are completely normal in a period that feels anything but normal. It can be helpful to name how you’re feeling – even writing it down. Then make an effort to refocus your thinking to techniques to help. For instance, if you are feeling out of control, concentrate your energy on things that you can control.
- Change your inner dialogue. It is normal to wrestle with numerous negative “what if” scenarios, which result in increased anxiety. Try integrating a positive slant to your thoughts; for example, in the place of thinking, “What if I come down with COVID-19?” tell yourself, “I’ve been doing everything I can to protect myself and stay safe.”
- Stay connected. While social distancing and staying away from each other has become the new normal, it is critical to maintain social connections in ways which are safe: phone calls, emailing and chatting on social media, writing letters, and making use of technology for virtual get-togethers, classes, religious services, etc.
- Turn off the news. It is important to ensure you’re updated on the latest recommendations, guidelines, and status of the virus, but it is also very easy to very quickly become inundated with too much information. Make an effort to restrict your news watching to no more than one hour a day, while making sure the source you are getting information from is trustworthy.
- Take good care of yourself. Develop a routine that includes at the very least seven hours of sleep per night, thirty minutes of exercise daily, and a balanced and healthy diet. You will be aiding both your emotional state as well as your immune system by simply making good lifestyle choices.
Hearts at Home In-Home Care, a provider of in home support services in Kansas City and the surrounding areas, is always here to partner with you in providing dependable in home elder care to help older adults increase emotional, physical, and social wellbeing. Whether the need is for just a few hours each week of respite care that will allow family caregivers to rest and recharge, or as much time is needed, up through and including full-time care, contact us at 913-440-4209 to learn more about our home care services in Kansas City and the surrounding communities.