Enhancing emotional wellness during the pandemic
"The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members." – Coretta Scott King, American author, and civil rights leader
We are in uncharted and challenging territory, trying to navigate back to calm, peace, and well-being. As professionals in the active aging industry, we must recognize the toll that this situation can have on people all around us. We need to use our skills and knowledge to find ways to help our residents, members, and fellow staff cope and be well during this unprecedented time.
What information do you need, and what actions can you take to support the emotional wellness of those you work with and serve?
We are bringing you excerpts from ICAA's Foundation for Wellness course to assist you in this time of need. This information targets emotional wellness and can apply to you and those you care for. Please continue to check the ICAA website for additional information and resources.
Coronavirus has been spreading rapidly and has proven to be more dangerous to older people and those who have chronic diseases. This disease can cause fear and despair and can lead to depression among people of all ages, all found within the emotional dimension of wellness.
What is emotional wellness?
An emotionally well person positively manages and expresses feelings, recognizes their own feelings and those of others, copes with and manages stress, and solves problems confidently. People who are emotionally well successfully manage life's challenges and demonstrate resilience. Being able to recover, learn from, and thrive from adversity are characteristics of a resilient person. Resiliency is an essential component of emotional wellness.
Emotional wellness involves self-awareness, understanding, accepting, and controlling our feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. Emotional wellness means to understand your emotions so that reactions or responses match the circumstances that trigger them. In this situation, COVID-19 is the primary trigger that can lead to emotional problems.
Warning signs of emotional problems
Getting to know and understand your residents, staff, and members and taking time to observe them is critical to determining if emotional issues are present. Some early warning signs to look for:11,13,15
- Unexplained fatigue, energy loss, or sleep changes.
- Eating more or less than usual; weight changes
- Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness; lingering depressed mood
- Complaining of unexplained physical problems such as aches, pain, and constipation
- Being unusually forgetful, confused, worried, and disoriented
- Changes in appearance and difficulties taking care of their residence and yards
- Isolating themselves and pulling away from usual activities and people
- Trouble handling finances and working with numbers
- Drinking, smoking, or using medicine/drugs more than usual
- Increased agitation and arguing with family and friends; severe and sudden mood swings
- Feeling like nothing matters, apathetic, thoughts of suicide
Stop and think. Have you assessed your customers' or staffs' emotional wellness? Have you taken the time to 'check-in' with them regarding their feelings? What are they saying about the pandemic? Are they experiencing any of the warning signs above?