December 12th, 2020
Co-authored by Dr. Holly Holmes-Meredith and Bill Yarborough.
If you are a senior, have you found aging challenges more difficult during the Covid-19 pandemic? Or do you have a senior family member or friend experiencing such challenges?
Aging can be trying in normal times. Mobility and health hardships arise for many as do emotional issues, such as ageism which includes jokes about aging or comments that suggest older adults are unattractive or undesirable. A University of Michigan National poll on healthy aging found that 82% of respondents regularly experienced forms of ageism in their daily lives. In addition, 36% of respondents internalized ageism, agreeing that feeling lonely, depressed, or worried is a part of growing old.
The pandemic has accentuated these feelings for some, and current trends indicate the winter months will be even more distressing. Extra precautions are recommended for seniors to avoid indoor contact with people beyond their immediate household. Children and grandchildren will be reluctant to visit for fear of putting seniors at additional risk. Seniors could experience, perhaps for the first time, a lonely Christmas and New Year’s following an isolated Thanksgiving and growing pandemic fatigue that dates to March.
There are a variety of tech strategies to help compensate for physical separation during the holidays. Zoom, FaceTime, or telephone chats with family and friends or watching church services, along with your favorite holiday TV shows are a few examples.
This holiday season could also be the time to develop aging skills that can fortify you now and beyond the pandemic. So, what steps you can take to improve your approach toward aging?
During these isolated days, you could reflect on your life experiences for the lessons you’ve learned, some of which could be fodder for lifestyle changes.
For example, you may have often resisted change and now believe times are passing you by. New technologies, culture change, and the interests of younger generations may seem foreign. This could be an ideal time to accept change and explore things you’ve resisted.
Many seniors have become more tech-savvy, so they can maintain their social connections virtually, particularly as outdoor options fade with colder weather and stay-at-home orders. You may discover it’s easier to learn new tech skills than you thought. Instructions on how to use features on Zoom, FaceTime, and a host of other media simply require googling online or searching YouTube.
For instance, google “how to use Zoom” and a variety of videos will pop up providing instructions.
Besides learning new technology, you can explore ways to connect with younger generations.
During the pandemic, all generations are struggling, such as working parents who have children at home doing their schoolwork virtually. We know a senior who tutors her grandkids every week. Such tutoring can be performed safely online and could develop lasting bonds. In return, your pupils can teach you new technologies and share the interests of their generation.
Other virtual volunteer possibilities include reading to someone in covalence, helping developmentally challenged kids, and countless other online opportunities to help. A key benefit of lending a helping hand is that it may distract and lessen worries regarding your own circumstances. If daily exercise has not been a part of your life or colder weather and shuttered gyms have eliminated your exercise routines, explore online videos, including weights, stretching, yoga, and Tai Chi.
Start by googling “free stretching exercises for seniors” to bring up a variety of instructional videos. Becoming more sedentary as you age is not good for your physical and emotional health.
Learn and explore. There are a plethora of virtual courses available, such as TheGreatCoursesPlus.com. Or, if you miss travel, then pursue the multitude of virtual travel options on the internet.
If you find it too difficult to endure the holiday blues and/or the emotional challenges of aging, seeking professional help from a qualified practitioner can help. Many practitioners are available online or in-person using a variety of therapeutic techniques to assist you. Teaching professionals often have interns who charge minimal amounts.
By Dr. Holly Holmes-Meredith, D. Min., MFT, Board Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist and Bill Yarborough, CHT, and Certified EFT Practitioner.
Below is a link to the December 2020 Diablo Gazette. Our Emotional Health Column is on page 7.
Categories: ageism, charity, Christmas, coronavirus, Covid-19, depression, Emotional Health, Emotional Health Articles, holiday season, lonely Christmas, outdoor gatherings, pandemic, pandemic impact on seniors, therapy, Virtual Family Gatherings