POSITIVELY 50+

Older Adults’ Mental Health Is Suffering During COVID-19

Nov 19, 2020, 1:53 PM | Updated: 1:56 pm

TAYLORSVILLE, Utah – The pandemic has struck our senior citizens hard. As it stretches on with no end in sight, older adults’ mental health is suffering.

That’s why it’s so important to be proactive, experts say, because being a grandfather in 2020 takes ingenuity.

Luckily, Mike Packham is used to getting creative. He talks to his grandson, Oliver, regularly on Skype. As a musician, he’s played the French horn since sixth grade and played it professionally with the Orchestra at Temple Square.

He’s also being inventive with the company he keeps.

His dog, Sam, a rescue, lives with him at Summit Vista, a senior living community in Taylorsville.

“(She’s) part Border Collie and part Husky,” said Packham, who is single and 73 years old. “I was feeling really lonely. We can’t hug and shake hands with people, but I can pet Sam, and we can snuggle up watching TV.”

Staying connected is vital to mental health. One in four people 65 and older is experiencing anxiety or depression during COVID-19, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

“Some older adults are declining very rapidly because they are not socially engaged,” said Anne Asman, director of Development and Outreach at University of Utah Department of Psychiatry.

Lack of appetite, trouble sleeping, and disengaging with family and friends are signs of depression, Asman said.

“It’s very dangerous,” she said. “Really.”

Experts at the University of Utah Geriatric Psychiatry Clinic recommend seniors learn technology to stay engaged.

“Some don’t even have internet access. Some are terrified of computers,” Asman said.

As recipients of a $25,000 AARP grant, they hope to help older Utahns become tech-savvy.

At Summit Vista, they’ve found ways to socialize, with precautions.

“This lobby turns into a little city park tai chi where we have tai chi going, socially distanced and spread out,” said Raquel Braithwaite, director of community life at Summit Vista. “In our restaurants, we have spaced our tables more than six feet apart, but we’ve created the spacing in a way that people can still have conversations.”

Upstairs in his apartment, Mike stays busy creating artwork. And with Sam by his side, He keeps the COVID blues at bay.

“I can’t sleep in,” he said. “She’s licking my face at 7:30 in the morning.”

There are many resources online to help seniors stay connected safely. One company, Candoo, walks people through how to Zoom over the phone.

The following is a list of online activities and resources to help older adults stay active and connected during COVID.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Positively 50+

...
Ayanna Likens

New bill helps seniors with the rise in property taxes

The rise in property taxes is affecting seniors’ that are on a fixed income, but local lawmakers created a bill to help combat it.
23 days ago
The Jeffs enjoyed traveling the world. Now, their trips are closer to home. (Ken Fall/KSL TV)...
Ken Fall

Brain health: When memory issues should become cause for concern

June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month. While subtle changes in our memory can be a normal sign of aging, some forgetfulness may signal it’s time to visit a doctor. Here’s how to tell the difference.
2 months ago
...
Dan Spindle and Sloan Schrage, KSL TV

Positively 50+: Refreshing your driving skills, learning new ways to handle Utah’s often difficult traffic

The rules of the road change all the time, as does the technology automakers stuff in our cars. Even our senses and reflexes are not immune from change as we pass the half-century mark. So, for Positively 50+, here's how we can stay on top of our driving game.
3 months ago
At 68, Utah woman Mary Crafts is at her healthiest – and she didn't start her healthy eating jour...
Shara Park & Madison Swenson, KSL TV

Utah woman encourages older adults to cook healthy

By following a few simple tips, older Utahns can learn to cook and eat more nutritiously.
4 months ago
Amanda Lambert started planning early in her career for retirement and has found it’s really payi...
Heather Simonsen, KSL TV

Women trail men in retirement savings, experts say

As more women break barriers in the workplace, there is still one area they fall far behind: saving for retirement. An expert explains how to bridge the gap.
5 months ago
Retiree Sarah Voigt is stretching her fixed income with coupons and sales as inflation soars. (KSL ...
Heather Simonsen, KSL TV

Retirees get creative with budgeting as inflation soars

Record inflation, spikes in gas, groceries, and utility costs are bad news for Utah retirees. A fixed income can make it much harder to cope.
6 months ago

Sponsored Articles

tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Photo: Storyblocks...
Blue Stakes of Utah 811

Blue Stakes of Utah 811: 5 Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig When Working in Your Yard

Call before you dig. Even at home, you could end up with serious injuries or broken utilities just because you didn't call Blue Stakes of Utah 811.
Days of...
Days of '47 Rodeo

TRIVIA: How well do you know your rodeo? Take this quiz before you go to the Days of ’47!

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank is a one-of-a-kind Gold Medal Rodeo being held July 20-23, 25 at 7:30 PM. The Days of ’47 Rodeo How well do you know your rodeo trivia? Take the quiz to test your know-all before heading out to the Days of ’47 Rodeo at the […]
cyber security through multi factor authentication setup...
Les Olson IT

How multi factor authentication setup helps companies stay safe

Multi factor authentication (MFA) setup is an important security measure that every company should implement for their workers. It’s also wise to install it for your personal and home accounts.
...
Lighting Design

Check out these stunning lamps with stained glass shades

Lamps with stained glass shades are statement pieces that are more than simply aesthetic. They also meet a functional requirement: to light up a room.
Address Bar of internet browser shows internet access...
AARP Utah

Utah voters 50+ support increased access to Internet

The AARP surveyed Utah voters aged 50 plus about internet access and if they support the expansion of broadband, especially in rural areas currently lacking it.
Older Adults’ Mental Health Is Suffering During COVID-19