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Work from home, meetings, video calls, social media, Netflix – We have all this and more to pass time during this lockdown situation but have you ever wondered how old-aged people in our homes are going to deal with it? Unfortunately, experts say that this situation might take a toll on their mental health too.
According to an AIIMS psychiatry expert, the elderly are most vulnerable to anxiety and social isolation culminating into mental stress during the lockdown, which is a worrying factor against the backdrop of high mortality among them from the coronavirus infection.
According to the Union Health Ministry, people above 60 years of age account for more than 60% of covid-19 deaths in India. The ministry has categorised the elderly in the high-risk profile.
Lack of social support is the major cause of concern, according to expert
Psychiatrist, Dr. Ashish Pakhre said that social isolation in the elderly population is a worrying aspect. He contended that lack of social support, limitations in executing daily routines and chores, and poor family support will have immense causes for elevated stress, depression, and sleep problems.
It is extremely crucial now to see what can be done to address the deleterious effects of social isolation, especially in elderly population of our society. Prolonged lockdown poses a serious public health concern in elderly population in our country.
The country has already been through a 21-day lockdown and on Tuesday, the Prime Minister announced the extension of the lockdown till May 3. Would this extension of the lockdown, eventually an isolation period, make elders more uncertain and anxious about the remaining period in the lockdown?
Dr Pakhre said the elders are already feeling uncertainty and anxiety, and experiencing immense concern over their health issues. He added this step to continue the lockdown is not an easy way to go ahead, of course with the special population of our society.
Social media and technology can play a role in building that connect
With most of the elderly having their children in different cities or probably out of the country, how could they fill this gap of social connectedness against the backdrop of a diminished family? To this, Dr Pakhre said online technologies/social media platforms may be used to provide social support, connection with family members as a sense of belonging.
“More frequent telephonic contacts with close family members, close friends and support system is needed. If any mental health issue arises, then online consultations will be suitable to access psychological assistance or contact with a psychiatrist should be provided,” he added.
With restricted movement of the elderly, Dr Pakhre insisted that authorities concerned can bring services, catering for elderly, at their homes and these should include necessary food items, groceries, and medical appointments.
So, even if you are living away from your parents, stay connected with them using video calling and other facilities. Now you can also play online games – so help them learn and enjoy with them.