As vaccination rates are rising across the country, the United States is slowly returning to normal. While this means millions of people are excited to return to their pre-pandemic lifestyles, not everyone is looking forward to the change.
People of all ages feel anxious about returning to everyday life, but it’s especially common in the senior community. As these individuals have a higher risk of contracting a severe case of COVID-19, many seniors are feeling afraid of the change. Luckily, there are a few suggestions that can help dramatically.
Keep reading to learn a few tips for addressing this anxiety and helping a senior loved one get back on their feet.
Why We're Feeling Anxious
Senior anxiety is common, but the term has been growing in popularity over the past few months. As the vaccines are working and more people are venturing out in public, senior anxiety is at an all-time high. While COVID-19 cases are dropping, it’s common to still feel anxious about things returning to normal.
Take a look at a few reasons why this anxiety may be happening:
COVID-19 has Been Devastating
The unfortunate truth is that thousands of U.S. citizens lost their lives due to COVID-19, and the past year and a half has been traumatizing for millions of people worldwide. This has led to more anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions.
Fear of Public Places
Another reason for senior anxiety involves the fear of returning to public spaces. Even with cases dropping, it’s normal to feel a bit nervous about going to a restaurant, bar, or grocery store—even with a mask on.
Furthermore, while COVID-19 cases are dropping very quickly, it’s still possible to catch the virus—even if you’re vaccinated. And while experts aren’t exactly sure how long protection lasts after getting the vaccine, many seniors are wary about venturing in public.
Tips for Addressing Anxiety
Do you have a loved one that’s currently dealing with senior anxiety? If so, there’s no need to worry—millions of seniors are going through the same experience. However, knowing what to do next can be challenging.
Here are a few tips for addressing this anxiety while trying to return to normal:
Understand How They're Feeling
Before jumping back into the normal world, it’s important to understand the feelings your loved one is experiencing. Do they seem stressed or anxious? Are they acting any different than usual? While senior anxiety can be hard to detect, it’s essential to talk to your loved one and ask about their feelings. These discussions can help to determine their comfort level and if they’re ready for a normal lifestyle.
In addition, you also want to watch out for physical signs of senior anxiety. This can include a rapid heartbeat and elevated breathing. As these symptoms can result in a panic attack, you'll want to keep an eye out.
Don't Dismiss Their Fears
If your loved one says they’re scared or feeling anxious, make sure you’re actively listening to them and caring for their needs. If not, they may hold back their feelings, possibly leading to more discomfort and worry. When they explain their feelings of anxiety, tell them it's normal and everything will be okay. This can help to decrease any feelings of concern, which could also bring down anxiety levels.
Take Baby Steps
One of the most important things to remember about returning to normal is to start small. If your loved one is experiencing senior anxiety, returning to everyday life too quickly could be overwhelming. This can cause anxiety levels to spike.
As many seniors have spent several months alone in quarantine, you’ll want to understand their current comfort level. Are they ready to see more family? Do they want to visit friends? After understanding how they’re feeling, start by connecting with a close friend or family member. If they feel comfortable, try to set up a small gathering of a few people. To keep anxiety at a minimum, choose an open space where proper social distancing can occur. This can be a park, beach, or hiking trail! You may also try going to a familiar location, which could also lower anxiety.
Encourage a Healthy Lifestyle
Many people don’t realize the power of living a healthy lifestyle. For those living with senior anxiety, eating healthy and exercising often can be extremely beneficial. If your loved one feels anxious about returning to normal, make sure they have a healthy workout regime. In addition, take a look at their diet and determine if any changes could be made.
Here at Vista Springs, we care deeply about the well-being of seniors. As the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a serious toll on senior mental health, follow these tips to help ease anxiety as things return to normal.