7 Ways Seniors Can Stay Healthy During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Make your physical and mental well-being a priority without putting your immunity at risk
Seniors have been strongly affected by COVID-19. They often have health risks that make them more vulnerable to severe illness. About 78% of all deaths related to the novel coronavirus have been among those age 65 or older, reports the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
But it’s not just physical health that’s impacted. Compared to one in 10 adults age 65 or older who reported anxiety or depression in 2018, one in four adults have felt anxious or depressed most weeks since the onset of pandemic, according to new data from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
So now — yes, amidst the largest pandemic we’ve ever lived through — is the perfect time to make sure your physical and mental well-being are a priority. Until a vaccine eases the world into a safer environment, here’s how you can bolster your wellness without putting your immunity at risk.
1. Focus on illness prevention
Just as the CDC recommends for the general population to lower the chance of acquiring the virus, wash your hands frequently, wear a face mask, keep physical distance from others, stay home when you’re sick, and avoid contact with anyone who has been exposed to or has COVID-19.
2. Utilize telemedicine services for preventative care
Everyone from primary care doctors to dentists are now offering telemedicine or virtual visits in case you don’t feel well enough or safe enough to venture out. Consult with your medical provider about senior health care options you can log into remotely and check which telehealth services your Medicare plan covers — it will likely cover at least part of the cost.
3. Seek out self-care and be mindful of your mental health
As mentioned, anxiety and depression have been reported at record rates due to the overwhelming uncertainties of daily life, senior isolation, daily stresses, and more. Jot down a list of quick and easy activities or habits that make you feel good (say, wearing your favorite slippers, calling a friend, or playing a song you loved as a kid) that you can turn to when you’re feeling low. And don’t be afraid to reach out to a professional, such as a psychologist, counselor, or therapist, if you’re noticing unwelcome feelings are persistent or heavier than usual. The Virtual Therapist Network is a great place to start your search.
4. Prioritize nutrition
It’s tempting to stock up on comfort food when you’re stressed, but proper senior nutrition can help all your internal processes run strong, including your immune system. Aim to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, lean proteins, and a few treats mixed in to fuel your body and your taste buds.
5. Keep moving with safe exercise options
Rather than going to a crowded gym (which has been ranked as one of the riskiest activities during the pandemic by the Texas Medical Association), consider virtual classes, YouTube videos, or one of the over 50 SilverSneakers group activities or classes hosted outside of a traditional gym setting.
6. Stick to a regular sleeping schedule
Quality rest is another key component of a strong immune system. Aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night, if possible, and wind down with as little technology as possible at least 1 hour before you plan to tuck in. For the most restful routine, try to stick to a consistent bedtime and wake time.
7. Manage medications
Continue your current medications as prescribed unless instructed otherwise by your doctor. Aim to stock at least a 30-day supply of all prescription and over-the-counter drugs to limit the number of trips you need to make to your pharmacy.
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