But weeks in lockdown, plus a fear of resurgence of the virus later in the year has wreaked havoc on the mental health of thousands of Britons. This is especially true of the shielder category, where people over the age of 70 were asked to stay within their homes for 12 weeks.
Back in May, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shared statistics revealing that the COVID-19 lockdown has had a massively negative effect on the over-70’s in the UK.
The government body said at the time: “Those aged 70 years and above reported being happier than those aged 16 to 69 years before the lockdown.
“By the third week of lockdown, however, this gap had closed, so there was no significant difference in levels.”
According to statistics from the Mental Health Foundation, one in five older people living in the community, and two in five people living in care homes, experience depression or poor mental health – and that’s before the COVID-19 pandemic caused those at high risk to self-isolate for the foreseeable future.
But Niels Eék, a psychologist and co-founder of Remente, has shared with the Express some tips to look after your mental health if you’re elderly and struggling with lockdown. JOIN FORUMS AND ORGANISATIONS
Niels suggests: “In order to help ward off feelings of isolation and loneliness, consider joining forums and organisations online, where you can chat to other like-minded people.
“Whether your passion is arts and crafts, gardening or singing, you’re likely to find a community page where you can talk about the things that you enjoy, and participate in video-based meetups.
“Not only will this allow you to pursue your passions, you’re likely to also make some new friends, too.
“Most towns and villages also have their own Facebook groups, where local residents can join and discuss current affairs and share interesting stories and updates.
“If you are missing speaking with your neighbours, perhaps turning to these groups will help you to feel more connected to your immediate surroundings.“ Back in May, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shared statistics revealing that the COVID-19 lockdown has had a massively negative effect on the over-70’s in the UK. (Image: PA)
“Regular physical activity can help produce endorphins: hormones which act as the body’s natural antidepressant, by blocking pain and encouraging feelings of euphoria.
“This can make you feel more energetic, alert, and happy.
“It can also help to promote good sleep patterns.
“Being active does not necessarily mean going to the gym or heading out for a run.
“There are many other things you can do from the safety of your own home and garden, including gardening, dancing, walking laps of your house and cycling using stationary foot pedals that can be placed in front of your usual chair.” According to statistics from the Mental Health Foundation, one in five older people living in the community, and two in five people living in care homes, experience depression or poor mental health (Image: PA)
LISTEN TO MUSIC
“Another chemical which functions as a hormone in the brain is dopamine, a chemical involved in reward and memory.
“If we can get our body to release dopamine in large amounts, it can create feelings of pleasure and reward – this is our body’s way of making sure we repeat certain behaviours, by training us to feel good about them.
“Research suggests that listening to music creates activity in the parts of our brain which are rich in dopamine receptors and that listening to stimulating music can boost our dopamine levels.
“So, to increase feelings of happiness, it may be helpful to put on some music that you enjoy, to boost the levels of your happiness hormones. “
Are the over 70s still in lockdown?
CREATE A ROUTINE
“Keeping a daily routine is important as it can provide you with some sort of normality in an otherwise uncertain time.
“That being said, your day-to-day will have inevitably changed over the last two months, so rethink your routine to help fit how your life looks like at the moment.“Get up at the same time every day and, likewise, go to bed at the same time every evening.“Try and make time for a little daily exercise, and take your meals around the same time each day.“If a routine is repeated and kept long enough, it becomes second nature, helping you to feel more in control and at ease.” Chris Packham’s stepdaughter Megan McCubbin talks family ‘worries’ USE TECHNOLOGY TO CONNECT “Keeping in touch with the people we care about is an important part of living a fulfilled life, and is especially vital now.“We need to talk to our friends and family members, be that via phone or video, or through socially-distanced visits, to both to enjoy a good laugh, but also to have a support network that can help us cope with the challenges life might throw our way.“Without a connection to our friends and family, we may naturally experience strong feelings of loneliness and this could in some cases turn into depression.“Finding the tool that works best for you is vital – There are so many wonderful apps and platforms that allow you to video call with your loved ones, putting them in the same room as you.“Try and schedule recurring video meetings with your friends and family, so that you have something to look forward to, and so that these meetings become part of your routine.“Knowing that, for example, you will video call with your son or daughter during the week, and with a friend over the weekend, gives you something to get excited for, and means that you can save up your stories and anecdotes for these calls.” Niels Eék, a psychologist and co-founder of Remente, has shared with the Express some tips to look after your mental health if you’re elderly and struggling with lockdown. (Image: PA) SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP “If you’re feeling particularly low, don’t be afraid to seek help.“You can contact your GP for general counselling and to be connected with a […]