A pandemic can result in significant lifestyle changes across all populations. The recent COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on all ages both physically and mentally. One of the populations most impacted is the senior, or geriatric population. Our society’s most vulnerable members remain our geriatrics with increased risk of complications and even death. Seniors are often isolated, have minimal to moderate resources, and can become isolated through necessity, fear, or choice. All these factors impact the mental and physical health of our older adults.

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the mental health of seniors. Many who are active and involved in multiple organizations outside of their home are now having to adjust to being isolated. This can bring about increased anxiety, feelings of loneliness, sadness and increased fear. Often, they may feel that asking for, or receiving, assistance makes them a burden and takes away the independence that they have grown to depend on to help maintain some sense of control over their changing lifestyle.

Many seniors are caregivers themselves and they are no longer able to provide this to grandchildren or others and this becomes an additional concern. This can lead to feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, guilt and ultimately, depression. Many individuals are isolated from their families, including their spouses. This accompanied with the reduction in physical exercise, loss of human contact, fear of loss of spouse or partner and often, lack of proper nutrition, can place a senior in a downward spiral that is difficult to pull out of.

Often, when seniors are isolated and become home bound, they will often stop completing activities of daily living (ADL’s) such as showering, putting on clean clothes, maintaining a consistent sleep/wake schedule, eating healthy meals and often taking essential medications. All these components to daily living are essential to help maintain some level of normalcy as well as good physical and emotional health.

Debra Willis is CEO of Crestwyn Behavioral Health. At Crestwyn there are multiple services available to seniors who are having difficulty dealing with the day to day changes to their lives because of COVID-19. Crestwyn offers inpatient services as well as intensive outpatient and partial hospitalization programs. A team of professionals is available 24/7 to answer questions, provide information, and offer an assessment to assist in overcoming the mental health issues that can accompany this recent pandemic. For information call Crestwyn Behavioral Health at 901-248-1500.

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