Covid-19 Creates Havoc in Older Adults
The risk of Covid-19 infection is known to be higher in older adults. In the United States, 8 out of 10 deaths from the virus are people 65years or older. This has forced most of them to become more isolated.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the elderly population has increased rapidly in the last few years. The National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA), which as the name implies, works on issues affecting aging Hispanics, reports that the pandemic has hit more than three million Hispanic older adults extremely hard.
Contrary to what is thought, the Hispanic community of Alaska seniors has had to modify their routines and lifestyle because the economic crisis has affected them very hard too. A high percentage of them are still immersed in the world of work, most in services that have had to be suspended due to Covid-19, therefore their incomes have been reduced, if not completely erased.
Because of this, older adults experience feelings of sadness, self-abandonment, uselessness toward themselves or those around them, fear, anxiety, and irritability. All of which can lead to negative thoughts and unhappiness as they are not receiving the stimuli of self-sufficiency to which they were accustomed.
Since 1965 the Older Americans Act, which advocates for the rights of older adults, as well as the creation of Medicare and Medicaid, programs which supports their health, have been around. Nevertheless, it is known that a number of concerns specific to them have not yet been addressed, and an even larger number continue to arise.
Emotions have been shown to emerge during the Holiday season, so it is important to pay more attention to this sector of the population. All of us who have contact with older adults must assert their autonomy, accept their habits, make them feel useful by giving them tasks that they can fulfill, concern ourselves with their mental and emotional well-being, encourage them to read more, or engage in activities that can be shared as a family.
Expanding their social network will also help minimize negative thoughts, although we know is difficult to find spaces of recreation, the family is their first point of support.
Like children, it’s important for seniors to establish a daily routine that includes new activities ranging from reading, writing, or learning something from home. The human brain can acquire new skills at any age, whether it is 30, 50, or 90 years old.
Older adults are advised that if they are undergoing any medical treatment, to not discontinue it, try to have a supply of medicines for at least 30 days to avoid shortages due to the pandemic, always have emergency numbers on hand, and if there are any symptoms related to Covid-19, to seek medical attention.
The state of Alaska offers help to seniors through the Senior Benefits Program. The program offers a monthly cash benefit to people over 65 years of age who have limited resources.
To learn more and see if you can qualify, visit http://dhss.alaska.gov/dpa/Pages/seniorbenefits/default.aspx