During this time of physical distancing and uncertainty, many older adults and caregivers are feeling isolated, lonely, agitated, and withdrawn. It’s critically important for you to stay in touch with your counselor, therapist, or psychiatrist if you have an existing mental health condition or substance use disorder.
Those with underlying behavioral health conditions, such as depression, bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia, and previous substance use disorder, are at particularly high risk for negative outcomes, including severe anxiety, substance use relapse and thoughts of suicide.
It’s critically important for you to stay in touch with your counselor, therapist, or psychiatrist if you have an existing mental health condition or substance use disorder. Telemedicine—video or phone chat—is the safest way right now to have an appointment. The good news is that under Medicare, healthcare providers can reduce or waive cost-sharing for telemedicine visits. (Check with your provider about specifics.)
Relieving stress and anxiety is also critically important now. Here are seven tips that all of us can use as we navigate these uncertain times:
Stay informed and take practical steps to protect yourself and loved ones. Get the facts from trusted sources such as the CDC, the World Health Organization, your local health department, and NCOA. Do not stay glued to the news as this will only worsen the distress you may be feeling right now.
Engage in healthy activities: Get 7-9 hours of sleep each night; eat a healthy, well-balanced diet; do not smoke; drink no more than 1 alcoholic drink per day or none at all, per your doctor’s instructions; and, finally, exercise your body and mind. Meditation, walking, gardening, and doing exercise routines in your home are all beneficial to your mental health.
Make sure you have at least a one-month supply of the prescription and over-the-counter medications you need to manage your mental health and other on-going conditions. Take all your medications as directed by your health care providers. Go to BenefitsCheckUp.org if you need assistance paying for your prescription medications.
Stick to regular routines as much as possible. You may need to create a new routine to account for working at home, exercising indoors, caring for grandchildren, cleaning, and other daily activities. Integrate old and new enjoyable hobbies into your daily routine.