Covid-19 has been life-changing for many older people, including those who didn’t contract the virus. Lockdown was a difficult experience. As a result many older people feel more isolated, less confident about going out or socialising and often less physically able.
The mental and physical wellbeing of many people has been badly affected. But – and this is the important bit – this can be reversed. There’s no reason why the majority of older people shouldn’t get back to enjoying active and fulfilling lives with a bit of help and support.
Here are some basic guidelines that will help you regain your confidence to live life a little more normally. There’s plenty more information available online but the first step is to tell yourself ‘I’m going to do this.’
Start By Eating Well
Many older people report feeling less able to prepare their own meals as a result of lockdown. So they don’t eat regularly. Or they eat less healthy foods that don’t take much effort and have comforting extra calories.
First point: don’t beat yourself up about this if it sounds like you. It’s a fairly normal reaction in a time of anxiety and you’re not alone. But also tell yourself: ‘that was then, this is now. I’m focused on the future.’
Mental and physical wellbeing starts with good nutrition. A balanced diet makes sure that we have the vitamins and minerals our bodies and minds need to function properly. We also need energy to gradually take more exercise and help our bones and muscles get back to normal. If we feel well because we are eating well we’re also less likely to feel anxiety.
It might be worth considering using a care at home service for a while just to help with meal preparation. The aim of this would be to help you get back to the stage where you are ready to take on the task of making healthy meals for yourself.
Research by Age UK also found that 41% of the people they surveyed were finding it harder to clean and tidy their home. This is another area where a care at home service can help.
Confidence is largely about feeling we have the strength and mobility to go out and do things without getting into problems or falling over. Getting back to normal levels of mobility may take a while but the most important thing is to start.
Aim to walk as far as you can, as quickly as you can. At first this might be to the end of the street or even just around the house. That’s fine. Start with whatever you can manage and then gradually build it up. There are plenty of items around the house such as tins of beans or bags of flour that you can use as improvised weights to rebuild muscle strength.
The knowledge that older people are among the most vulnerable to Covid-19 made many anxious about going out – even for a short walk.
The good news is that for double vaccinated people, the risk of becoming seriously ill appears to be low. As you improve your nutrition and fitness your risk will fall even further.
The best advice seems to be to take things slowly at first and gradually build up your confidence. Again, the important thing is to get started and progressively push your limits. Outings with a friend, family member or carer are a helpful way to become accustomed to being out and about, while knowing that there’s somebody to keep an eye on you.
If you’re concerned about an elderly relative whose confidence and wellbeing have been affected by the lockdown, Altogether Care will be happy to offer advice. We may also be able to arrange a temporary care at home support package. To find out more about the services at Altogether Care, contact 01305 206 140.