Mental Health Monitoring During the Pandemic
Updated: Jun 30, 2020
Even before the COVID-19 crisis, many older adults said they faced anxiety and depression due to social isolation, financial challenges, illness, grief and loss. That is why mental health professionals expect these issues to increase during the pandemic.
“Because their social connections diminished so abruptly, older adults are particularly adversely affected by the pandemic. Social distancing physically disconnects them from their families and friends, who in normal times provide these older adults with the social connection required for successful aging,” said Dr. Theadia L. Carey, Medical Director at Development Centers, and the Program Director for Michigan State University - Authority Health Psychiatry’s Residency Training Program.
Carey says seniors may have additional concerns, like fear of being a burden on or after thought to loved ones. They also may ration their resources, so they won’t need to ask for help. She adds that COVID-19 fear compounds these concerns since seniors are at risk of contracting and dying from the virus. Some, she adds, might even despair to the point that they wonder if they would be better off dead.
“That’s why it is important for family or friends to observe, listen and identify the older adults in their lives who may be suffering. Are they eating? Not sleeping? Depressed? Anxious or worried? Note if they are unable to focus on pleasurable activities. If so, recommend a mental health evaluation,” says Carey. “Don’t ignore it. Suggest an evaluation to a loved one, giving them the realization and reinforcement that we need to take care of ourselves.”
She says many of the barriers that once existed, like the stigma of seeking mental health care or going into a mental health clinic, are now removed. Carey also recommends in-home exercise as a way to fight off these symptoms. “It can improve your mood and give you stamina for improved health.”
People with Medicare benefits can access telemedicine visits with a doctor via the internet or
The Development Centers provides services at five treatment locations in Detroit. For assistance, call the access line at 313.531.2500 Monday – Friday, 8 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. To learn more, visit www.develctrs.org.