How older adults can cope with COVID-19

We are certainly in unsettling times. Often, it is difficult to find reliable information. This is a quick informational blog about how to keep yourself safe and how to reach out for assistance. The Senior Reach program continues to operate, accept new referrals, and continues to work with older adults in our community. We are currently utilizing a Telehealth model to continue our work.

Older adults, 65 years and older, are at higher risk for severe illness. COVID-19 is a new disease, and we are learning more about it every day.

What you can do

If you have a serious underlying medical condition:

  • Stay home if possible.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Avoid close contact (6 feet, which is about two arm lengths) with people who are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
  • Avoid all cruise travel and non-essential air travel.
  • Call your healthcare professional if you have concerns about COVID-19 and your underlying condition or if you are sick.
  • For more information on steps you can take to protect yourself, see CDC’s How to Protect Yourself

Stress and coping

Older people are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 which may result in increased stress during a crisis.

Fear and anxiety about the COVID-19 pandemic can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions.

Things you can do to support yourself:

  • Go outside for a little while: Enjoy the health benefits of sunlight, especially morning sun, look around and stretch a little. Stay home but get a little sun.
  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories and social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting. Instead play different games on the cell phone or table.
  • Enjoy your kitchen: See what you have in your pantry, make a recipe with whatever you find. Discard items that have expired. Research cooking ideas on Pinterest.
  • Body basics: Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.
  • Make time to unwind. Try to make a point to do activities you enjoy.
  • Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
  • Find a project: Make your own hand sanitizer or make protective masks as a sewing project or make a project with other items around the house. Find something that works within the scope of your home.
  • Call your healthcare provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row.
  • If you, or someone you care about, are feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression, or anxiety, or feel like you want to harm yourself or others, then please call right away.

Here for you

This column was contributed by Wellness and Care Coordinator Nicole Hartog and Program Manager James Kuemmerle with the Senior Reach program at Community Reach Center. It is important for people experiencing mental health conditions and their loved ones to know that mental illness is treatable, and there is no shame in seeking assistance. If you have any questions about where to turn for help for older adults, please reach out to the Senior Reach team at Community Reach Center at 303-853-3657. We provide treatment for depression and trauma, as well as many other mental disorders. Community Reach Center provides comprehensive behavioral health services for all ages at locations in Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City, Brighton and Broomfield.