Mental Health for Seniors During the Pandemic: Part 2

Many home care service providers have reported that seniors are feeling the burden of isolation. Being away from families, friends and personal interaction is difficult. Additionally, senior’s lifestyles were disturbed during the COVID-19 affected period, especially those with mobility issues. Seniors felt safer and more confident by having trusted caregivers by their side.

We interviewed seniors, Charlie and Karen, to get a first-hand account of their experience with COVID-19 and mental health. Below is a transcript of the interview.

How did you feel when you heard about the COVID 19 hitting Colorado and how did you react to it?

(Karen) How did I feel about it? It made me very nervous because we were the likely category to possibly get it. And we didn’t. And no one in this building at where we live has gotten it, so that is really good. And part of it was because of the, you know, restrictions that they had, and Amber had, and etcetera. So it was kinda scary- it was really scary. 

(Charlie) I really didn’t know how to feel about it because a couple years ago we had an issue with this and it seemed like it came and went. So we didn’t know right away what was going to happen other than we felt isolated, I guess. And I think probably everybody in this building- everybody everywhere felt isolated. 

As we’ve mentioned before, in terms of your mental health, what aspects of your life were affected that caused positive or negative changes?

(Karen) I think that probably negative was that, which I said, we didn’t know what was going on. And we couldn’t see our friends, we couldn’t see our relatives that came in, and that kind of thing. Positive was that everyone here seemed to be going along with it you know. It wasn’t like, you know, they were grumping all the time or anything like that. But they seemed to know it was the best for all of us to, you know, follow the directions, follow the guidelines, etcetera. Also there were some negatives in terms of food, and in terms of not being able to go to the dining room and that kind of thing.

(Charlie) And we haven’t been able to go to church in four months. Because of our conditions with, me, I had a hip replacement and I was in the hospital twice. Karen cannot handle going by herself and so that has been a loss for us. 

(Karen) That’s true. Because we go every Sunday. 

What does it mean to you, to have Jenny and Danielle during that time here with you?

(Karen) Oh they have been wonderful.

(Charlie) They’ve become part of our family. They know the code, they walk in, they just do the stuff, and they say “how’re you doing, what do you want today”. And yeah, they are unique.

(Karen) They are great! They are very good. Not only them, but also the people who drive me, you know, to my therapy and that type of thing. Because I can’t drive. I really think I could drive, but I can’t get the wheelchair in the car. 

(Charlie) It’s taken a lot of the burden off me because I was trying to run her to different places and everything and with some of the physical things that I have going wrong, it was just like always in a rush and nothing would ever quite heal. And then I had to drive. And had to do this or that. And I like my little artsy things and I wasn’t doing them. And that was mentaly bad health right there. Unable to do them.

(Karen) It was.

Do you feel, with having Jenny and Danielle here during the lockdown, that it improved your mental health rather than if they weren’t allowed to be in the building? Do you think it would’ve been different?

(Charlie) Yes.

(Karen). Yes. It helped me a lot I think because they are outside people and we can talk to them and we can, you know, have a conversation. And it’s not just with the two of us because that’s pretty boring, frankly. 

(Charlie) And they are very intuitive. They know by the expressions we have or by what’s going on, they ask the right questions and they go and they suggest certain things: “could we do this and this and this for you?”. I never knew what it was like, on a king size bed, to fold a sheet with a back problem. They can do things like that and take it. I would just be out of my mind trying to do them. So very positive.

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