How to Safely Adjust to Your Post-Pandemic Life

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After a year spent inside and away from others, America’s seniors are ready to get back to living their lives. As of mid-May 2021, over 70 percent of America’s senior population had received their COVID-19 vaccines, bringing a collective sense of relief after enduring a tumultuous 15 months. Now, the weather is warming, it’s safer to gather, and spending time outside feels irresistible. In fact, for many seniors, getting outside, either to exercise or socialize, is important for nearly all aspects of health. Older adults who have felt isolated and lonely can once again begin to enjoy the activities they love.

As medical alert system providers, we spend a lot of time on the phone with seniors. Many of these conversations reveal fears and a lack of confidence in returning to (the new) normal. Today’s older adults are worried about what’s happened and what’s to come – about having a breakthrough case of COVID-19 or being shamed for choosing to wear or not to wear a mask in a public space. All of this worrying is impacting senior confidence. If you’re hesitant to step back out into the world, you’re not alone.

If you’re having trouble adjusting to your post-pandemic life, remember that it’s perfectly fine to adjust slowly, as and when you feel comfortable resuming your previous activities and lifestyle. Feelings of unease and concern are perfectly normal in this transitional period. Whether you’re worried about physically moving through a public space or socializing in person for the first time since 2020, a healthy dose of confidence can help you get reacquainted with the things you once loved. For some older adults, that confidence might start and end with purchasing a medical alert system, which can help you feel safe while out and about. But many others will need some additional support. Consider this your guide to confidently – and safely – adjusting to your new, post-pandemic life.

Confidence is Key to a Smooth Transition

Some of America’s seniors have been excited to get back into the world, while others are finding the re-entry process to be harder than expected. For most people, confidence is the key to a successful transition. But many seniors lose their confidence as they get older. According to a Harvard Medical School publication, life-altering events, like retirement, health issues, and the loss of loved ones, can contribute to a loss in personal confidence.

For a lot of Alert1 members, the pandemic just happened to be a perfect storm of these experiences. Over the past 15 months, we’ve had to learn new technologies in order to socialize. We’ve changed our day-to-day actions to be as health conscious as possible, even though health anxiety remains at an all-time high. Isolation, a key experience for many seniors in the pandemic, fuels low self-esteem, which can contribute to feelings of anxiety and depression. The past year has shown us the senior population’s resilience, but it’s also taken a toll on our mental and physical health.

These feelings of anxiety can appear in a variety of settings. Many of our members talk about feeling cautious while at church, while running errands, and while dining at restaurants. Below, we’ve detailed a few of the most common experiences we’ve heard about.

·         At Church – Many cities and states around the country have recently lifted mandatory mask orders in certain public spaces. Many older adults may still be hesitant to take off their face masks, especially because indoor church services were COVID-19 hot spots.  

·         At the Grocery Store – Most seniors have continued to go to grocery stores throughout the pandemic, but trips became shorter and more planned. In other words, we weren’t stopping to talk to people. Now that it’s safer to spend time in enclosed areas, many seniors are struggling to perform the small talk that used to be part of routine interactions.

·         At a Restaurant – On-site indoor dining was one of the biggest safety concerns for most Americans, according to the CDC. Now that people are back to dining inside, interacting with wait staff, as well as feeling comfortable eating in public, might feel strange and uncomfortable.

No matter how well seniors have fared these past 15 months, it is perfectly reasonable that the resumption of “normal” activities may bring a sense of dread or concern as we continue to move forward. 

Remembering Your Physical and Social Fitness

A year might not seem like much time, but when life changes drastically, dramatic changes can happen to an ageing body. The past 15 months have been a time of limited mobility for most Americans. Prolonged inactivity can even cause pathological changes to many organs and body systems in older adults. In short: bending down to put on socks might be slightly more difficult now than it was at the start of 2020.

It’s important to assess personal physical fitness before stepping back out into the world. According to Dr. Jonathan Bean, an expert in geriatric rehabilitation at the New England Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center at the Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System, seniors should initiate conversations about things like how difficult or easy it is to walk a quarter mile, or perhaps to climb a flight of stairs, with their physicians. In the next few weeks, pay attention to how your body moves through regular, day-to-day activities. If you’ve noticed significant changes to mobility, talk to your physician about visiting a physical therapist. These specialists can help to strengthen muscles that may have become weakened during the year of isolation.

In addition to assessing personal fitness, seniors will need to spend some additional time surveying their surroundings. Construction halts over the past year mean that neighborhood sidewalks might not be in great shape. For seniors who have spent most of the past year walking around the house, returning to sidewalks and walkways might take a bit more attention than usual.

Adjust and Acknowledge

To help develop self-confidence, adjustments may include going for shorter, slower walks than usual. For others, it might mean calling up a close friend to tag along for an errand. Some seniors may want to look into medical alert systems—personal security alarms that may help them feel more protected. This is an opportune time to try out this senior-friendly technology. Medical alert devices work both inside and outside the house, providing comprehensive support. Those who want to be extra careful should consider adding fall detection protection.

You never know when you’ll experience an accident, and Alert1 makes it easy and affordable to have help at your fingertips. We never charge our members for “false alarms” or multiple button-pushes, and our Command Centers are staffed by trained agents who are ready and willing to assist you. We’ve found that these additional features help our members feel more empowered to ask for help when they need it. Our devices help seniors feel more confident while going about their lives. 

Confidence “Hacks” to Get Social and Active this Summer

Building confidence and starting slowly will be important for most seniors re-entering the world this summer. The below tips are designed to address some of the physical and social insecurities older adults have reported feeling these past few months. With enough practice, and the comfort of a medical alert system , you’ll be back to your active, social self in no time at all.

·         Tell somebody where you’re going. This might seem silly for regular runs to the grocery store and pharmacy, but if you’re planning to go out for a walk or to a restaurant with friends, tell someone where you’ll be. You’ll feel more secure knowing someone else is aware of your whereabouts.

·         Wear sturdy shoes and comfortable clothes. It’s no secret that we haven’t spent much time walking around this past year. For many seniors, most of the walking they have done has been in the home or to and from the car. If you’re going out for a stroll with a friend, you’ll want to dress the part. A sturdy pair of shoes and comfortable, breathable clothes can help you stay agile and prevent accidents from happening – whether they be falls or overheating in the summer sun.

·         Carry important safety supplies. Summertime brings its own challenges to spending time outside. As we age, our bodies grow increasingly intolerant of hot temperatures and direct sunlight. Additionally, we need to consume more water than those in younger generations. If you’re spending a day outside, bring plenty of water, a bottle of sunscreen, and other protective gear, like a wide-brimmed hat or a cardigan.

·         Socialize slowly. If the thought of spending time with a large group of people right now sounds unattractive, you’re not alone. Many Americans report feelings of social isolation and anxiety in these post-pandemic times. The best way to feel good about socializing is to do it slowly. Rather than attending a card game with half a dozen people, choose one or two close friends to join you for a walk. Building up your social tolerance is key to having a smooth reintegration.

·         Have some stories or topics ready to talk about. When chatting with new friends and folks you haven’t seen in months, it can be tough to keep the conversation fresh. To avoid awkward silences and long conversations about the pandemic, have a few stories or topics in your back pocket. This can help you be a more engaged conversation partner, keeping the chat rolling when a group runs out of things to say. 

·         Bring your medical alert system. It’s impossible to predict when you’ll have an emergency. That’s why it’s important to wear a medical alert system. Remember, you might have experienced some physical changes over the past 15 months, so your limits may have changed. If you experience a fall while out and about, you’ll want to know that help is readily available. A medical alert system can give you the confidence you need.

Easing Your Transition

It’s important to have realistic expectations about getting back to normal. The past 15 months have been a time of both psychological and physical trauma, and it will take a while for things to feel okay again. If you feel like you need a little more support as you venture out, consider a medical alert system from Alert1. We have a wide range of product options to suit your specific needs. Whether you want something for on-the-go use or a device with added fall detection, we can help you feel good about venturing out into the world. The road back to normal life might contain a few speedbumps, but a medical alert system can help you have a smoother, easier transition.