Between March 2020 and April 2021, much of New Mexico seemed to shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic. For many elderly people, it largely meant staying at home to prevent exposure to the virus. Now, as restrictions are lifted in the spring of 2021, the elderly, particularly those who’ve been vaccinated, are now more able to leave home without the fear of contracting the virus.
But think of how this newfound freedom affects older people who have been cloistered at home for more than a year. Being around groups of people or in a vibrant setting may be overwhelming. Even a trip to the grocery store with all the bright colors and large variety of items, not to mention other shoppers nearby, may be more stimulating than that person has had in many months. Even the way that people enter and exit a building may have changed; many stores and offices buildings now have a one-way entrance and a separate, one-way exit. To the elderly, that may be very confusing.
As you talk with parents, neighbors, or friends who’ve been shut in at home during the pandemic, encourage them to go slowly in re-engaging in the outside world. Perhaps it would be helpful if a family member or caregiver like those at FootPrints Home Care accompanied the senior for their initial trips to the market, the doctor, or other appointments to help familiarize them with changes.
As you accompany your seniors out and about, pay attention to their body language. Do they seem stressed or anxious being out of the home? Ask them how they’re coping with more activity and people nearby. It may be that after a few short trips out of the home, they adjust and again enjoy excursions and interactions in public settings. But if it is too overwhelming and stressful, it may be a sign that aging is progressing. If the senior is not comfortable with resuming trips to the grocery store or going out to eat, then options are available with online ordering and delivery services that will remain, long after Covid has passed.
It’s been a very difficult year for everyone during the pandemic. As we all begin to get back to more normal activities, be cognizant of the impact on the elderly in your life. If we can provide information or resources, or if it’s time to include at-home care so your family member can remain in their home safely, please let us know. At FootPrints, our mission is to care for your family as if they were our own.