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April 03, 2021 2 min read

The COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly spread all over the globe since the first confirmed cases in China were reported in December of 2019. However, the first suspected case of the infection can be traced back to November of that year and could have been contracted by an older adult aged 55-year-old who suffered pneumonia-like symptoms. The prevalence of the disease is still uncertain due to asymptomatic cases, however, older adults aged 60 and above with multiple co-morbidities suffer the severest COVID-19 outcomes, with fatalities ranging over 95%in Europe and 80% in China and the US.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), social distancing is considered an important move to prevent the spread of the infection, reducing the rates of cases and deaths due to COVID-19, especially in the older adult population. However, a growing concern regarding the psychological impact of the quarantine and social distancing for the hundreds of millions of people under lockdown is imminent. The effect of the social distancing due to COVID-19 on mental health in elderly people based on a recent study are summarized as follows:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Sleep disturbances

Many of the reported cases suffered an increased level of psychological stress due to higher levels of anxiety, depression, loneliness, and poorer sleep quality during the COVID-19 lock-down. These suggest a negative effect of social isolation on mental health, especially in the elderly.

Some Helpful Tips to Mitigate Mental Health Issues Due to Social Distancing

  • Strengthen social contact through telephone and online channels via internet apps and video chats
  • Participate in telephone support lines or support groups
  • Keep a regular sleeping schedule
  • Engage in fun activities with the family and friends at home
  • Exercise regularly and observe healthy eating habits
  • Cognitive stimulation, especially in people with cognitive impairment