Establishing a Routine: How to Adjust to Life After COVID-19
For seniors and other high-risk individuals, maintaining healthy habits and sticking to preventative measures will be essential for long-term wellness
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused huge changes to our daily lives. Many of these changes happened rapidly and without warning. As we all learned to adjust– social distancing, wearing protective face masks, limiting exposure – the situation became a bit less bothersome. But as our communities begin to re-open, what does this mean for our new way of life?
While medical researchers and health officials learn more about COVID-19 and work to develop a vaccine, it is essential that seniors and those at high-risk take personal steps to maintain their wellness. While no one expects you to remain in personal isolation forever, here are a few things to keep in mind when adjusting to our post-COVID-19 world:
1. Recognize your emotional and mental needs
After months of social distancing, many of us may be itching to go back to our “normal lives”. However, if you feel anxious, stressed, or even afraid of going back into the world, you aren’t alone! Shelter-in-place orders and quarantine measures created a bubble, or safe space, around our homes. Leaving this space might make you feel nervous or uncomfortable.
The first step in adjusting to the “New Normal” is to accept that what you are feeling is okay! Choose to re-enter into society at your own pace. This may mean picking up take-out food from a favorite restaurant but not dining-in, or reserving a library book and picking it up at the window rather than browsing the stacks.
Planning ahead is a great way to ease into new routines. At Visiting Angels, we encourage our clients to have a few ideas of tasks they’d like to complete or activities they would like to do on days that their caregivers visit. Creating a plan for your day not only gives you something to look forward to, but also helps you become comfortable with the idea of an outing or activity before it happens.
2. Take Preventative Measures for Personal Wellness
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified that older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions might be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 [Source]. For people who fall into either category, this means that additional precautions should be taken to prevent getting sick, even as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
For the elderly, those with asthma, diabetes, liver or kidney disease, severe obesity, and the immunocompromised, taking preventative measures to promote wellness will be key to long-term health. It is important to first listen to recommendations from local and national health professionals before making any adjustments to your routine.
Here are a few things to consider:
- Hand washing and disinfecting – continue to wash your hands frequently, especially after visiting a store or restaurant. Try to refrain from using personal belongings, such as phones, until you have a chance to wash your hands. Disinfect high-touch surfaces like door handles, car keys, and remote controls.
- Protective face masks – CDC recommends the use of protective face masks as a way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 when social distancing isn’t possible. This means that wearing a mask to the grocery store, doctor’s office, or religious gathering is recommended. Masks help you maintain your personal wellness; if a sick person is also wearing a mask, they are less likely to spread illness to you as well.
- Social distancing – CDC recommends keeping at least 6 feet between yourself and others to prevent the spread of the virus. While enforcement of this may change, it is always a good idea to stay away from those who are actively coughing, sneezing, or showing other symptoms.
3. Find New Ways to Stay Active
There are aspects of our communities and social lives that will likely be forever changed by the pandemic. Try viewing this as an opportunity rather than an inconvenience!
Many businesses have adjusted to social distancing measures by offering online services, required appointments, or no-contact pick-up. Some parts of our routines may have to change to accommodate these measures. Call your beauty salon or barber before walking in, as many shops may be by appointment only. Your doctor’s office may advise a video call rather than having you come into the office if you are 65+ or high risk for other reasons.
Outdoor activities can be a safer way to interact with friends and family while limiting your risk. Choose patio seating or curbside pick-up at restaurants rather than dining in. Visit the drive-in movie theater or rent a favorite film from the library or a streaming service instead of crowding into a movie theater. Take a walk through the park or around your neighborhood rather than going to the gym.
For seniors and other high-risk individuals, it’s important to assess the risk associated with certain activities. Perhaps younger, otherwise healthy adults are going to amusement parks, movie theaters, and crowded bars. These activities may not be in the best interest of your health – and it’s important that you consult with your doctor about what is best for you given your personal condition.
4. Find the Support You Need
At Visiting Angels, we provide the essential home care services that seniors and other at-risk adults need to remain safe, healthy, and happy at home. This includes help with running errands, grocery shopping, preparing meals, light housekeeping, and so much more. From adults managing chronic conditions at home to seniors with varying levels of dementia, our caregivers are specially trained to provide one-on-one support at home.