Monday, January 17, 2022

It’s Essential that Older Adults Practice Self-Care During the Pandemic

Credit: Han Chenxu via Unsplash

Let’s set the record straight about what self-care is not before we explore what it is, and how older adults can benefit from practicing it.

Self-care is not:

•    Selfish
•    Self-indulgent
•    Self-absorbed
•    Solipsistic
•    A reward for good behavior 

On the contrary, self-care is the conscious practice of taking care of yourself holistically—that is to say, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually—so that you can enjoy better overall health and a higher overall standard of living.

More, when you practice self-care, you enable yourself to care for others. By taking better care of yourself, in other words, you empower yourself to take better care of those around you. Love thyself to love thy neighbor.

Why is Self-Care Trendy? 

You may have noticed that the term self-care has been popping up everywhere these days.

The term began to gain popularity among medical communities in the 1960s. Health practitioners used it when discussing how patients who lacked autonomy could exercise healthy habits under their guidance. 

But the term self-care did not become mainstream until around 2016. Since then, as the data shows, Google searches for the term have steadily climbed worldwide, with a record number of searches coinciding with the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The COVID-19 Pandemic and the Rise of Self-Care 

The connection between COVID-19 and the surge of Google searches for self-care is rather obvious. Impelled to quarantine and keep themselves healthy, more and more people across the globe in the early days of the pandemic began wondering how to take better care of themselves and their overall health and stave off pandemic-related anxiety and depression.

The rates of anxiety and depression rose by a staggering 25% in 2020, and during that year one in four older adults reported anxiety and depression. 

Older adults who live alone experience higher rates of anxiety and depression than those who live with family members, caregivers, or in the sort of social environment that a well established retirement community provides. 

How Older Adults Can Practice Self-Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic

It is especially important nowadays, when people of all ages are encouraged to keep their bubbles small, that older adults—many of whom felt isolated even before the pandemic—practice self-care. Self-care can help prevent or lessen symptoms of depression and anxiety, which isolation only exacerbates. 

There are different ways that older adults can practice self-care without puncturing their social bubbles.

 They can:

•    Pursue creative activities, such as painting, writing, or music
•    Relax
•    Meditate
•    Exercise

All these self-care practices keep the mind and body active and therefore combat symptoms of isolation-induced anxiety and depression. 

Practicing Self-Care Takes Practice 

It’s unlikely that an older adult, or for that matter, anyone of any age, will be able to suddenly start practicing self-care out of the blue merely because they’ve decided to. Practicing self-care takes practice. 

If you’re an older adult, the first step to practicing better self-care is to adjust your daily routine so it becomes healthier. You can do this by incorporating into your routine small acts of kindness to yourself. For instance, taking five minutes out of your morning routine to journal, paint, stretch, or meditate.

The Bottom Line

When older adults practice self-care, they can improve not only their overall health but also their overall standard of living. This is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic, where isolation-induced health troubles among older adults have increased while the overall quality of life for many people, not just older seniors, has decreased.

This is a guest blog entry.

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