During this extraordinary time of isolation and stress, mental health has become an important topic to discuss. Seniors are under stricter visitation guidelines depending on what state they live in, and whether they are at home or in senior living. Regardless of your living situation, maintaining good mental health is vital to your overall health.
What is mental health?
- Mental health is our perception of psychological and emotional well-being.
- Good mental health helps us cope with stress, disappointment, and grief. It doesn’t mean that we don’t experience these feelings. But it does mean that we can cope and recover.
- Research has shown that mental health can be adversely affected by social isolation and loneliness. Loneliness can contribute to depression and anxiety.
Lack of social engagement can lead to increased problems with thinking and memory. It can also cause a worsening of medical problems.
Help Seniors Stay Engaged
Caregivers are in a unique position to help facilitate and enhance the suggestions we have outlined here. To take it one step further, they can help make many of these activities possible. Let’s look at how caregivers can provide invaluable support in keeping seniors engaged.
- Help with technology. Caregivers can teach seniors how to use a smartphone, laptop or iPad in the privacy of their home. It can take time to become comfortable and familiar with technology if you have never used it before. Caregivers can show seniors how to use social media apps to maximize their potential to bring people together.
- Companionship. Caregivers can fill that vital gap of socialization. Whether it is talking about family, life history, current events, or feelings. Conversation helps people feel connected and appreciated. It stimulates the brain in positive and meaningful ways.
- Playing games. Having someone to play games with opens up a whole new world of possibilities. These could be card games, board games, sharing a puzzle, or learning online activities that are mentally stimulating.
Being alone during the COVID-19 pandemic does not mean your mental health has to suffer. By attending to your mental and physical health, you can thrive under these conditions. A caregiver can be an enormous help during these difficult times.
Stimulating Mental Activities
Being alone can make it tough to stay mentally engaged, but mental engagement is more important than ever if you are without a spouse or other person to be with. Consider these options.
- Games. Word and card games can keep your mind active. Consider jigsaw puzzles, crossword puzzles, and Sudoku. Don’t forget about online games like solitaire, Words with Friends, and hundreds of others.
- Using the internet to travel. It is now possible to travel right from your chair. Visit museums, other countries or cities. Check out Travel and Leisure’s 12 Famous Museum Tours. And if you haven’t tried Google Earth, you must give it a try. Fly to any part of the world that appeals to you and before you know it, hours have passed by. You can do this from your smartphone, computer or iPad.
- Reading. Reading is an under appreciated activity. It can stimulate the imagination and take you to places you have never been to before. Use a kindle or the good old fashion library.
- Writing. If you can write, try it out. Whether it is journaling or a story you have been burning to tell, now might be the time to do it. Perhaps this is a good time to write your personal history for your children and grandchildren.
- Humor. Although humor may not seem like a mentally stimulating activity, it is a mentally healthy one. Watch movies or funny television shows. Subscribe to Netflix or Hulu to expand your options and view from the comfort and safety of your home.