For the families of elderly people, there has been an understandable focus on ensuring physical wellbeing through aids such as lifts, hoists, mobility scooters, wheelchairs, beds, and specialist seating.
The coronavirus pandemic has also highlighted another important issue which many occupational therapists feel hasn’t had the same level of focus.
That issue is the need for older people to protect their mental wellbeing and avoid feelings of isolation and loneliness while they are unable to welcome family and friends into their homes.
Many elderly people are currently shielding because of medical conditions or are isolating because of their age and have spent weeks without that regular contact.
Loneliness is now a growing concern for their families.
Here are five key things OTs can recommend to clients to help protect their mental health
- Use new technology to keep in touch and reduce feelings of isolation – From Facetime and Skype to WhatsApp, there are so many ways elderly people can keep in contact with friends and family during the Covid-19 outbreak. OTs understand that seeing a friendly face can give people a huge lift and that phone amplifiers can also be useful for people with hearing problems.
- Take gentle exercise – OTs know exercise releases endorphins in the brain and helps people feel better. Clients could benefit from simple things like therapy putty to exercise hands and feet, a pedal exerciser, or resistance bands.
- Make cooking a joy not a chore – OTs ensure they have kitchen tools with a good grip, non-slip mats on which they can put plates and chopping boards, one-touch can openers, and jar openers to help them cook.
- Make eating easy – OTs make sure the good nutrition on plates gets into their clients’ systems with two-handled mugs, shatter-proof glasses, contoured plates, and sure-grip cutlery.
- Enjoy your hobbies – Whether your clients love to read, write, sew, paint, knit, or tinker with old machinery, you’ll tell them they should keep doing it during the lockdown. Doing something we love helps us all feel good, doesn’t it? If they have problems with vision, there are excellent magnifiers which can help your clients see their work clearly.
If you’re an occupational therapist who feels a client might benefit from one of our products to support their mental wellbeing, please get in touch.