People at higher risk for severe illness, such as older adults, and people with underlying health conditions are also at increased risk of stress due to COVID-19. Special considerations include:
- Older adults and people with disabilities are at increased risk for having mental health concerns, such as depression.
- Mental health problems can present as physical complaints (such as headaches or stomachaches) or cognitive problems (such as having trouble concentrating).
- Doctors may be more likely to miss mental health concerns among:
- People with disabilities due to a focus on treating underlying health conditions, compared to people without disabilities.
- Older adults because depression can be mistaken for a normal part of aging.
Common reactions to COVID-19
- Concern about protecting oneself from the virus because they are at higher risk of serious illness.
- Concern that regular medical care or community services may be disrupted due to facility closures or reductions in services and public transport closure.
- Feeling socially isolated, especially if they live alone or are in a community setting that is not allowing visitors because of the outbreak.
- Guilt if loved ones help them with activities of daily living.
- Increased levels of distress if they:
- Have mental health concerns before the outbreak, such as depression.
- Live in lower-income households or have language barriers
- Experience stigma because of age, race or ethnicity, disability, or perceived likelihood of spreading COVID-19.
Support your loved ones
Check in with your loved ones often and help keep them safe:
- Know what medications your loved one is taking. Try to help them have a 4-week supply of prescription and over the counter medications. and see if you can help them have extra on hand.
- Monitor other medical supplies (oxygen, incontinence, dialysis, wound care) needed and create a back-up plan.
- Stock up on non-perishable food (canned foods, dried beans, pasta) to have on hand in your home to minimize trips to stores.
- If you care for a loved one living in a care facility, monitor the situation, and speak with facility administrators or staff over the phone. Ask about the health of the other residents frequently and know the protocol if there is an outbreak.
Take care of your own emotional health. Caring for a loved one can take an emotional toll, especially during an outbreak like COVID-19. There are ways to support yourself.
Stay home if you are sick. Do not visit family or friends who are at greater risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Use virtual communication to keep in touch to support your loved one and keep them safe.