Gothenburg Health - 3.22

Americans of all ages are experiencing increased social isolation and loneliness in combating the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the National Institute on Aging, nearly 14 million older adults in the U.S. live alone and are especially vulnerable during this time. Their research has linked social isolation and loneliness to higher risks for a variety of physical and mental conditions: high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, a weakened immune system, anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, and even death. Gothenburg Health’s Senior Life Solutions Program is encouraging people to engage in meaningful, productive activities to help boost mood and maintain their overall emotional health and well-being.

“It is important to find ways to connect and engage in activities to help mitigate symptoms of anxiety and depression during this time,” said Cassie Hilbers, Senior Life Solutions Program Director. “We put together these quick tips to share with our communities and hope they will encourage self-care and support.”

Quick Tips for Older Adults

Experiencing Social Isolation

1. Find or keep a sense of purpose. Take up a hobby such as

growing an herb garden, crossword puzzles, knitting, or

other activities.

2. Age-appropriate workouts can help you not only stay in

physical shape but in mental shape as well. Gentle

exercises such as walking are suggested. It is always

recommended to consult a healthcare professional or

primary care physician first.

3. Manage medication. Do you have enough to last you for

the next 30-60 days? If you need help managing medica-

tions, contact your doctor or a loved one who can help you.

4. Keep a routine that includes consistent sleep/wake

cycles. Incorporate talking to family or friends in that

routine - whether it be writing them a letter or calling

them on the phone.

Quick Tips for Families

1. Stay active, and do it together! Walk the family dog, take

a bike ride, or a walk together.

2. If your church has temporarily closed, check-in with them

to see if they are offering virtual services that your family

can attend together from home.

3. If you have kids home from school, make a video (on your

smartphone!) and send it to a loved one who lives far

away. A fun interactive way to simply say, hello.

Quick Tips for Caregivers

1. Take five to refuel. Make a list of things that help you

relax and take 2 - 3 breaks throughout the day.

2. Call or write a friend who can lend a sympathetic ear,

make you laugh, and remind you that you are not alone.

3. Pursue other interests. Hobbies, sports, crafts, and other

pursuits are not frivolous. They help you clear your mind

of worry – if only briefly.

How to Care for Yourself

1. Nourish your body. Ensure you are eating a balanced

diet and drinking plenty of water. Check out Gothenburg

Health’s website for great nutrition tips.

2. Take a break from the news. Although it is important to

stay updated, it is recommended to take at least a

15-minute break.

3. Stay connected to your loved ones or a mentor using your

phone, or applications like Facetime or Skype to speak to

them virtually.

Other Ideas & Resources

1. Hilltop Estates is asking for the community to help out

in two ways: send cards to residents at P.O. Box 429,

Gothenburg; visit residents/family outside their windows

and display signs of support; arrange for Skype, phone

call, or phone and window conversations with residents.

3. Meditation. Please visit our website for more information

about meditation and other relaxation methods.

HILBERS

HILBERS

If you or a loved one is in need, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Disaster Distress Helpline at (800) 985-5990. They provide 24/7, 365-day-a-year crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters. Additionally, older adults and adults living with disabilities can contact the Institute on Aging’s 24-hour toll-free Friendship Line, an accredited crisis line at 800-971-0016. If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, go to your nearest emergency room or dial 911.

“Think of self-care like putting on an oxygen mask on an airplane. The flight attendant always instructs travelers to put on their own mask before securing others. You must take care of yourself right now to continue caring for and supporting those around you,” Hilbers added.