COVID-19 and the Mental and Emotional Toll it Takes on Seniors

Due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, there have been many rules put in place to keep us safe. Though these precautions may prevent us from getting the virus, we tend to look past what they are taking from us.

Social interaction is very important for our mental and emotional health. Being social can help prevent depression, which is widespread among seniors. In fact, some studies show that up to “20 percent of the population over 70 years of age suffer from depression. There are many causes, but it’s often made worse by the fact that people who were once active now spend much of their time alone.” In the article: The Unspoken COVID-19 Toll on the Ederly by: Eden David,  Stephanie Cacioppo, director of the Brain Dynamics Laboratory at the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine, tells us that “Loneliness also triggers a stress response that there is an imbalance in our social homeostasis,”. Another study done by The National Institute on aging says “Social relationships are consistently associated with biomarkers of health. For example, people who are lonely frequently have elevated systolic blood pressure.” Not only does social interaction help us stay happy and keep a good attitude. It keeps us healthy and boosts our quality of life. Most of us have many  opportunities for social interaction. We go to work, school, church, maybe even lunch with a friend. In assisted living, there are fewer options for such rendezvous when it comes to talking with a variety of people. Here at Bel Aire Senior Living, we want to offer each of our residents the highest quality of life possible, so we focus on planning exciting and meaningful group events and activities. 

A fun activity or outing is a good reason to get out and participate. Each month our Life Enrichment Coordinators Andrea and Madi create a calendar with a variety of activities. We have musical programs, scenic drives and picnics up one of our beautiful local canyons, crafts, exercise, brain stimulating games, and of course BINGO (which believe it or not is also a cognitive brain enhancer). These, along with many other activities, get our residents out and socializing. We try to engage as many residents as possible in our activities, but not everyone enjoys going out in large groups.

To ensure we meet everyone’s needs we schedule time on our calendar for one-on-one visits. These visits are for residents that don’t enjoy the large group activities. Andrea and Madi make it a priority to personalize this time, and it varies with each resident. They visit, file nails, read, or help them with other activities. Madi says “I love one-on-ones because it’s a chance to let each person in the building know that I am thinking of them. Besides making sure everyone has interaction, it’s clear that they appreciate knowing that someone comes to visit because they are on our mind.” One-on-one visits allow each one of our residents to enjoy a personal connection inside their comfort zone, and give us a chance to show them how much we enjoy and care for them.

Speaking of visits, we still allow families to visit, but with a twist! We call them window visits. We take the resident to a room where they sit by the window and whoever comes to visit sits on the other side and they chat through the screen. This is one of the ways we are keeping our residents happier by being with and seeing their family members in-person. In this wild pandemic we schedule 30 minute visits with their families on any day of the week and as often as they like.  And with newer State guidelines, we have been allowing outdoor visits for our residents with adult family members, where social distancing is observed, and masks are worn.

 We believe it is vital to our seniors’ mental and emotional  health that they have the chance to interact with others and are still able to see their loved ones. We all need a little spirit-lifting now more than ever.



If you would like to learn more about our one-on-one visits and other activities stop by or give us a call! 

 

Bel Aire Senior Living in American Fork

801.763.0622

1088 E 390 S 

American Fork, UT 84003

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