The Post-Pandemic Senior Mental & Physical Health Recovery Plan Post-Pandemic Senior Mental & Physical Health Recovery Plan

When the coronavirus was first reported in late 2019, it was clear that people of all ages were confused about facts and figures reported by the CDC. It wasn’t until March 2020 that federal recommendations limited social interaction to reduce the risk factor for people contracting the disease and spreading it. This impacted physical and mental health significantly for millions of people throughout the U.S. and the world, but the impact on seniors was greater than on other age groups. 

As we gradually move toward a sense of normalcy, it’s important to start focusing on our mental and physical health. But you must consider that you cannot rush your recovery from prolonged mental stress and lack of physical activity. Here’s a recommended plan for the retired community:

Mental Health

It’s natural for the human brain to go into a “fight-or-flight” mode to avoid harm, and many people retreated (as recommended) to their homes to avoid harm. The adrenaline rush helps people react to short-term threats, but when it comes to long-term threats a person’s mental ability to deal with stress can affect memory, problem-solving, concentration and cognitive function.

  • Aim to Get Quality Sleep Each Night

Establishing a regular sleeping and waking routine is essential for good mental health. Some of the things you can do to promote quality sleep are to make sure your living space is suited for deep sleep. This means limiting distractions like light and noise, as well as making your room cool and comfortable. You should also avoid all caffeine and nicotine the hours before going to bed.

  • Consider Practicing Different Relaxation Techniques

Aromatherapy, grounding, guided visualization, meditation, mindfulness, Tai Chi, and yoga are just a few relaxation techniques that have been proven to help improve your mental health. Among the benefits characterized by incorporating relaxation techniques into your daily routine may include lower blood pressure, reduced heart rate, and slower breathing.

  • Revisit Your Social Connections and Relationships

After practicing nearly 3 years of social distancing, it’s important to revisit personal connections with your friends and family members. Talking with others can support you and help alleviate stress levels. If you are still concerned about one-on-one contact with others, you can start with short phone calls or video chat sessions to learn about how others are coping with the return to normalcy.

Physical Health

Getting back to a safe exercise routine is important for seniors and retirees. But people must practice restraint if they have been sedentary during self-isolation, or if they are recovering from an injury or illness. If people contracted COVID-19 and still show symptoms, things can be more complicated because of potential health issues that can arise.

  • Start Exercising Slowly and Work Your Way Up

If you had an exercise routine before quarantine, you may feel the urge to jump right back in and do the physical activities you were doing before. Your body needs to build strength and stamina to withstand sudden physical stress to avoid injury. Consider getting no more than 30-45 minutes of exercise to start, and then gradually increase the amount of time and intensity level for each activity you do. This will help your body adjust safely so that you put too much stress on your joints and muscles.

  • Don’t Exercise If You Exhibit COVID-19 Symptoms

It is important to remember that you should avoid exercise if you still have symptoms. Even if you test negative and have done so for some time, COVID-19 impacts your respiratory system which can make you feel fatigued or experience shortness of breath. Consider waiting 7-10 days after you are symptom-free before resuming exercise. And when you are in doubt about your physical capabilities, you should seek medical advice from a licensed professional.

  • Listen to Your Body Before and After Each Session

Whenever you are in doubt about your physical level, you should simply pay attention to how your body responds before and after each exercise session. This is especially true if you have pre-existing heart issues. Some COVID-19 cases have shown that the virus creates intense inflammation throughout the body, and your cardiac muscle (as well as other muscles) can be heavily impacted. The added stress around your heart can lead to myocarditis or arrhythmia which can lead to further health complications or be fatal if left untreated. 

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