ALONE, the organisation which supports older people, wants you to Bid Adieu to feeling Blue on what has been labelled as the toughest day of the year. The organisation has voiced its concern regarding older people’s mental health as ‘Blue Monday’, Monday 18th January, approaches as we reach the height of the third restrictive phase since COVID-19 arrived in Ireland. The organisation is calling on members of the public to continue supporting their older friends, neighbours and relatives who may be finding things difficult under renewed Level 5 restrictions.
ALONE are encouraging older people to incite the ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’. They hope to educate older people on how to mind their mental health as we navigate through the remaining Winter months whilst living with restrictive movements.
ALONE encourage older individuals to pick up the phone to their friends, neighbours and relatives to try and curb feelings of loneliness and social isolation. Although we must be apart, the organisation want older people to still feel connected.
ALONE have also suggested a number of ways in which members of the public can safely support the older people in their lives, for example; regular phone calls to lift their spirits, offering to pick up groceries, prescriptions or other essentials and checking in to ensure they are warm and have enough fuel to keep the house at a comfortable temperature. The organisation want to ensure older people are feeling connected to the world at a time when our usual modes of communication have been stripped away.
- Be Active
Seek out ways to remain active although you may be spending more time indoors. ALONE is encouraging older people to keep to a routine, stay active and exercise outside during daylight hours where possible, however the organisation has also urged them to be careful while out walking. Long periods of physical inactivity may result in deconditioning and loss of muscle mass, resulting in an increased fall risk among older people. Each year, one in every three adults age 65 and older falls, mostly at home, and falls are the leading cause of injury, disability and admission to nursing homes for this group.
- Take Notice
Take notice to the world around you. When you are spending time outdoors, take notice to the smells, sounds and experience you are having. Take a second to listen to your thoughts and seek out support if you are experiencing feelings of worry, anxiousness or even just want somebody to talk to. If you are having concerns about your own wellbeing, or the wellbeing of an older person you know, ALONE’s National Support Line is available seven days a week from 8am – 8pm on 0818 222 024.
- Keep Learning
Keep your mind busy and learn. Learning helps to improve our mental health and wellbeing. Try learning a new dish, baking a tasty treat, become a pen-pal so somebody in your life or journal the thoughts that come to your mind each morning and night. Make a pact with a friend to give them a call once a week while you share parts of your learning journey with each other. This will keep you staying connected while doing something you enjoy.
Commit to an act of kindness onto another individual once a week or if you can manage, once a day. By helping others, you are directly helping yourself and making someone else happy in the process.
While ALONE understands the necessity of the current restrictions to protect older and vulnerable individuals, the organisation has expressed concern regarding the long-term impacts of isolating and social distancing on older people’s mental and physical health. Many older people have had to deal with loneliness, social isolation and anxiety as they withdrew from society to protect themselves from the virus. The organisation is urging older people to practise the ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’ as Level 5 restrictions continue in response to increases in cases of COVID-19.
ALONE CEO Seán Moynihan stated, “While we understand the importance of keeping older people safe from COVID-19, we also recognise the negative effects of the pandemic on the older people in our society. We are encouraging older people to mind their mental health in the coming weeks and to develop a routine which will help them to stay positive during these difficult times. Even something as small as calling a friend, going for a short walk or practicing a hobby can make a world of difference when it comes to mental wellbeing.”
Moynihan continued, “Since last March, the situation with COVID-19 has been difficult for all of us, but unfortunately older people are among the groups most affected by the pandemic. The level of support we have seen from members of the public so far has been amazing, and we hope to keep this momentum up until COVID-19 is a thing of the past. We are reminding older people that there is light at the end of the tunnel as vaccines are rolled out across the country and that if we all continue to follow the guidelines to keep each other safe, we will get through the coming weeks together.”
Contact ALONE’s National Support Line on 0818 222 024 which is available seven days a week from 8am – 8pm. Further information can be found on www.alone.ie. If you want to join in on the conversation share your journey on the ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’ with #BidAdieutoFeelingBlue on social media.