After weeks of thorough surveys and independent research, I have discovered a few common ailments afflicting our older adult population, which can only be attributed to a current national battle with the coronavirus.
Well, to be honest, I talked to a handful of folks, and read some articles on Google. But the themes are similar: our aging adults have reached a state of pandemic fatigue and isolation brain fog.
Our seniors are sharing feelings of loneliness, frustration and anxiety as they continue to isolate from family, friends and community. They are weary. Many say they have become even more forgetful than usual, or feel physically weaker overall. In addition to concerns about the virus, they worry about the way their families worry about them. On a positive note, many exhibit an amazing sense of humor in spite of it all.
My simple “research” notwithstanding, many other smart people have already proven that depression, loneliness, anxiety and decreased physical activity will weaken a person’s immune system, at any age. A physically active and mentally engaged person will have a stronger immune response overall. So, how can we encourage seniors to stay physically and mentally strong, get them engaged with their community, and yet keep them safe?
I wish the answer was easy. As I see it, older adults appreciate the concerns of loved ones, but they also want to be able to make their own decisions about daily activities and routines. Some are comfortable staying at home, others are willing to safely venture. If they choose to venture out, they don’t really appreciate being scolded like errant children. And, generally speaking, they are behaving. They are not attending raves, hosting COVID parties or balking at the mask mandate. Most are extremely cautious, safe and aware. Many are looking for safe ways to see real people in real life.
The Chanhassen Senior Center is open and running programs for our older adults with the goal of keeping them safe and engaged. We want to sustain overall well-being. Many programs can be attended both virtually and in person, with limited seating. Special events to celebrate our seniors are held in safely designed outdoor and indoor spaces.
We encourage you and your families to weigh your risks and maintain your comfort level when out in public or taking part in city programs. You can be assured that our COVID-19 safety plan includes limiting indoor guests, sanitizing frequently touched surfaces, requiring masks, and offering remote participation when possible. Anyone 55 and older is welcome.
We will always keep your health and safety as our No. 1 priority. Remember, this crises will pass in time. We can help you stay safe, stay strong, and stay well.
If you are an active older adult looking for a safe way to engage with others like you, check out all of the Senior Center’s activities in the most recent Chanhassen Connections brochure. To get a copy, contact City Hall at 952-227-1101.