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Article by A Place For Mom.com

“We can get so focused on our loved one’s physical health that we forget to pay attention to their mental health. In addition to being a physically high-risk population for COVID-19, elderly Americans are feeling increased anxiety and stress, according to Brian Carpenter, professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Washington University. Learn why your loved ones may be experiencing these negative emotions due to senior loneliness, and get tips for coping with coronavirus stress.

Causes of increased anxiety in elderly populations

  • Isolation from family and friends — Seniors who live alone, or in a community that isn’t allowing visitors during the pandemic, are especially affected by isolation. Even those who live with family may not be able to visit with grandchildren or relatives deemed essential workers.
  • Higher risk — Older adults are more concerned with protecting themselves from the coronavirus due to age and underlying conditions.
  • Concern about medical care — Many medical providers, like optometrists, non-emergency dentists, and dermatologists, are closing to prevent contagion.
  • Reports of mortality — Seniors are exposed to coverage of elderly deaths across the country and statistics about their increased risk.
  • Guilt — Elderly people may experience guilt from having to rely on family or friends for groceries and everyday tasks. Some may also feel powerless because of their inability to help out during the crisis.

How to help seniors cope with stress and social isolation
These actions can ease your loved one’s anxiety and reduce your own stress about their emotional well-being during the pandemic:

Listen actively.
Sometimes the best thing you can do is listen to your loved one’s concerns. Anxiety in older adults could stem from one of the reasons listed above, or from something more personal. The World Health Organization emphasizes the importance of letting your loved one speak freely. They may be scared and confused, so remember to be open to their concerns and let them know you’re there to listen.”

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