elderly lady with post-pandemic anxiety

When the world first went into lockdown in early 2020 we all thought it would be for just a few short months while we defeated this strange new virus and then we could all get back to normal.

What actually happened was that with repeated lockdown periods and ever more controls and restrictions imposed on us, many people started to realise the effect it was having on their mental health. It was soon reported that increasing numbers of people were suffering high levels of anxiety due to fears over work, money problems and of course fear of the coronavirus itself.

Now that we are coming out of lockdown many people are still feeling those high levels of anxiety for a variety of reasons. People of all ages are worried about what the immediate future holds. Some wonder whether they really are going to be safe. Many have come through horrendous times and have experienced loss of loved ones, loss of financial security and loss of homes.

Anxiety Amongst Older People

The older generations have been the ones disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 pandemic as they were the ones most likely to become severely ill or die from the virus. Caregivers are reporting many instances of increased post-pandemic anxiety in their loved ones. Some who suffer anxiety can display obvious symptoms but in some cases the signs are harder to spot. Some common signs of anxiety include:

  • Uncontrollable worrying. Sometimes a person worries about things which previously wouldn’t have bothered them.
  • Irritability and restlessness.
  • Difficulty in concentrating.
  • Disturbed sleep patterns and increased tiredness during the day.
  • Changes in appetite.
  • Digestive problems.
  • Chest pains.

They may be reluctant to resume physical contact even with family and friends for fear of catching the virus, even though they will most likely have been fully vaccinated. They may also be reluctant to go outside, preferring to stay indoors where they feel safest. In extreme cases a person may start to deteriorate physically as they become less and less mobile due to refusing to go out or engage with any sort of exercise.

Gentle Encouragement is Needed

Post-pandemic anxiety is not something which can be simply shaken off and people at risk will need careful monitoring and extra help if they are to overcome it. Nurture their mental health through encouraging them to improve and maintain their mobility.  Pay special attention to their daily nutritional and medical needs. Encourage them to take up new hobbies and interests to distract their attention from anything pandemic-related. Most of all you, as the one providing care at home or companion care, are best placed to keep an eye on their daily moods and any changes to their wellbeing.

When to Get Help

As things return to normal hopefully their anxiety should start to fade away and they will be able to resume normal activities. However, if this doesn’t happen, consider asking for help from their doctor who will be able to refer your loved one to a mental health specialist. Doctors will also be able to help with anti-anxiety medication or cognitive behavioural therapy which could ensure a brighter and less anxious future. The main thing to remember is to ask for that help.