While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact day-to-day life, increasing vaccination rates mean many older adults feel ready to “re-enter” the world after more than a year of isolation.
As families reunite, some adult children are noticing that isolation has taken a toll on the mental and physical well-being of their parents. The last year of isolation has led to increased instances of anxiety, depression, poor sleep quality and physical inactivity, all of which can have significant long-term impacts on an individual’s long-term health outlook.
Below are some simple ways you can help the older adults in your life get back on track after isolation.
Schedule a Primary Care Physician Visit
Many individuals missed their annual Primary Care Physician (PCP) visit due to the pandemic.
Scheduling an appointment can be one of the best ways to help get someone back on track because these visits are meant to serve as a baseline picture of an individual’s health and assist a medical team in treating specific challenges down the line. This is also a good way to identify any immediate health issues that may have cropped up in isolation.
Click here for tips on making the most of your annual check-up.
Mental Health Screening
Social isolation can have a significant impact on an individual’s mental health and the lack of social interaction with friends and family mean that cognitive changes in an older adult can easily go unnoticed.
Mental health screenings are a critical opportunity to check in with someone coming out of isolation to identify any mental changes due to the challenges presented by the last year.
One great resource available to New Yorkers is NYU Langone’s Family Dementia Center, which provides mental health screenings and a wide range of services to support families.
Help Refresh the Home
Be sure to visit your loved one’s home and take stock of their living situation. Consider the overall cleanliness of the home, if there are any repair projects that might need seeing to and if the home is well-stocked with food and other supplies.
If the home is in need of a refresh, consider calling in a cleaning service to tackle the problem in one overhaul, or take things one step at a time by resetting the home one room at a time.
If the past year has been difficult on an older loved one and new mental, physical or practical challenges are making it difficult to continue living independently, it may be a good time to consider working home health care into your loved one’s routines.
A well-managed home health care plan can offer a helping hand around the house, assistance outside the home for medical appointments and trips around town and much-needed social engagement after a year of social isolation.
Should your family choose to bring in outside services, cooperation and agreement from your loved one is critical. Any care plan is as only successful as your loved one allows it to be.
To learn more about how to prepare for home health care services, read our related blog.
The past year has been a trying time for everyone, but by committing to asking the right questions now, you might be making a critical difference in the long-term outlook for your loved ones.