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Mental Health Awareness Week: Looking after your elderly loved one’s mental health during Lockdown

May 19, 2020

Mental health week

It’s Tuesday the 19th May and it’s the second day on Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK and this year’s theme is kindness.

Who could have predicted that this year it would coincide with such a significant time in global history? Lockdown has prompted many of us to look more closely at mental well-being, as we face loneliness, isolation and massive changes to our daily lives, among many other factors that can impact our mental health.

Here at PPP Taking Care, we have seen an upsurge in calls from distressed alarm users who feel alone and want to hear a friendly, reassuring voice. For many, conversations with our Emergency Response Team may be some of the only social interaction they are getting right now. For others, just knowing we are there if they need us is providing much needed peace of mind, when other services they usually rely on are not operating as normal.

So with Lockdown challenging people’s mental health in many ways, how can we ensure our elderly loved ones mental well-being?

 

Social interaction

With loneliness and isolation on the rise, it’s important to try and keep your elderly loved ones connected as much as possible. Be sure to call regularly or set up video calling on Skype or Zoom for them, get family members to send letters and photos and anything else that lets them know you’re thinking of them. If your loved ones are particularly tech savvy, think about signing them up to social media so that they can make connections and stay social whilst you can’t be with them.

 

Try something new

Using this time to take up a new hobby or learn a new skill can be a great way to stay mentally stimulated and alleviate boredom and feelings of loneliness. It is well documented that learning a new language for example, can structurally and functionally alter the brain and make it more flexible.

If your loved ones don’t want to start enrolling in courses or taking up new hobbies like gardening or knitting, even starting a new project around the house could have benefits. Something as simple as clearing out a closet or sorting through the junk drawer can give a sense of purpose and motivation.

 

Relaxation and mindfulness

Stress levels are probably running higher than usual at the moment. As stress can contribute to a range of health problems and reduce immune function, it is important to actively work to reduce stress.

Doing relaxing activities such as taking a walk, reading a book or trying out some mindfulness exercises can be an effective way of reducing stress levels. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to sit cross legged on the floor and empty your mind to enjoy the benefits of mindfulness, you can bring mindfulness into anything you’re doing – even drinking a cup of tea.

 

Routine

Another factor that can contribute to stress is having our usual routines disrupted. Try and make sure your loved ones are finding ways of keeping to a routine, even if it’s different to the one they had before Lockdown. For example, make sure they are getting up and dressed at their usual time, taking a walk when they might usually do errands and eating meals at regular times. This helps maintain a sense of normalcy and structure, which may be especially important to those living with conditions such as dementia.

 

Keep active

Moving your body is not only good for your physical health, it’s good for your mental health too. Physical activity releases hormones that make you feel good and reduce stress. Feeling healthier because of exercise can also make you feel happier and more in control of your health.

Exercise needn’t be strenuous, gentle stretching and taking a walk can suffice. It’s always best to start small and build exercise up gradually.

If you’re worried about an elderly family member’s well-being or feel that they may be suffering from depression or anxiety, the following resources may be useful:

 

How we are helping our customers and staff

Whilst we always strive to provide support and spread caring and kindness, we continue to look for more ways to ensure our staff and our alarm user’s well-being at this difficult time. One of the things we are doing to help our most vulnerable customers, is providing free access to AXA’s Medical Helpline, where they can call up day or night and ask anything they like about their health, discuss their symptoms with a nurse or check their medication with a pharmacist. In addition, knowing that to take excellent care of others, our staff need to take excellent care of themselves, all PPP Taking Care staff now have access to mental well-being app Hive, along with online access to Doctor@Hand for online and phone consultations for themselves and their family at any time.

#Healthcare #Healthy ageing