The lockdown has triggered and aggravated anxiety in increasing numbers of people. Neuropsychiatrist Dr Payal Sharma Kamath suggests ways to deal with it
The largest national lockdown due to Covid-19 is being gradually eased across the country for most segments of the population. However, for people above 60 years, considered to be the most vulnerable group, the stay-at-home restrictions continue.
Already cooped up at home for more than a month, with their whole schedule gone awry, even if was just going down to the garden, or meeting with counsellor or friends, there is a lot of restlessness, worry and depression among senior citizens, accompanied by loss of interest, changes in appetite, impaired cognition, sleep disruptions and feelings of guilt or worthlessness.
At such times, exercise is a natural and effective anti-anxiety treatment. It relieves tension and stress, boosts physical and mental energy, and enhances well-being through the release of endorphins.
Simple physical exercises
Older adults need to focus on gentle, low-impact exercises that have low risks of injury.
- Take short walks at a slow pace for ten minutes in your room, three or four times a day.
- Basic yoga poses and stretching exercises will help relax muscles.
- This is important if you want to get the most benefit out of your exercise programme. Focus on arm and chest muscles by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms at your sides, then bring both arms behind your back and grasp hands. With your shoulders pulled back, hold the move for about 30 seconds, release, and repeat.
- Chair Pose. A good balance exercise for older adults is the chair stand: Start in a seated position in an armless chair. Keeping your back and shoulders straight, extend your arms parallel to the ground and slowly stand up, without using your hands. Sit down and repeat the move 10 to 15 times. Rest, and then complete another set of 10 to 15 rounds.
- The Head Turn. This exercise involves a movement you do whenever you shake your head to say “no”. Stand or sit with your back straight and your shoulders relaxed. Turn your head slowly to the right until you feel a light stretch. Hold that position and then turn slowly to the left.
Easy mental workouts –
Read the newspaper every day and share the news with family and friends – it will keep you informed and entertained as well sharpen your memory.
Puzzles and Sudoku – try and complete one game of Sudoku every day. This type of cognitive activity provides entertainment and also keeps the mind active and sharp.
Card Games -Simple card games such as Poker, Solitaire, and Memory Match can help to improve cognitive function in seniors. Play with your loved ones, it will stimulate parts of the brain responsible for logical problem-solving and memory retention, along with other functions.
Chess & Strategy Games – Strategy games such as chequers and chess stimulate multiple parts of the brain and are widely used for educational purposes.
Bingo – Bingo is a fun and easy activity that can be played in large or small groups. Playing bingo is not only fun and stimulating, but it also has a number of health benefits for seniors. For example, it can help to stimulate three key senses: hearing (when the numbers are called), touch (using the pen to dab and holding the card), and sight. Bingo is also a great social activity that can help to reduce loneliness and increase a sense of well-being.
Go down memory lane – take your old photo albums, try remembering the names of everyone in the photo and story behind the photo. It is a good exercise for long term memory.