Loneliness can make you sick
Older people in particular currently have to forego contact with children, grandchildren and friends in order not to contract the corona virus. Going to the shop is too dangerous, especially if the elderly have pre-existing conditions such as heart failure or diabetes.
The fact that many older, still active people have now been isolated for weeks and for an indefinite period of time, is something geriatricians see with great concern: With increasing isolation, the drive to make the bed after getting up, to take care of oneself, to eat and drink is lost . And it is not just dehydration that threatens: if certain skills are lost over time, older people could slip from being independent into needing care. Studies show that loneliness can make you sick and lead to heart disease, cancer or premature dementia and can also trigger depression.
Structure the day
Experts advise older people to structure the day and set anchors for the day, for example planning a phone call and adhering to fixed rituals. It is best to get up at a specific time of the day, have breakfast, then do the housework, have lunch, and so on. Hobbies such as puzzles, handicrafts or crafts can be included in the planning. Those who can walk well can take a short walk, for example to the church, to light a candle for loved ones.
Families: spending time alone
Families and couples also face special challenges due to the contact restrictions: If you spend many days together in a small space, conflicts can arise. It is therefore important to regularly spend time alone, for example on a walk or doing sports. On the other hand, watching TV or playing games for long periods of time can lead to restlessness, aggression and tantrums in both children and adults.
People living alone: keep in touch with friends and family
In particular, people living alone should try to maintain as much of their everyday life as possible with short walks, household chores and other errands. Because conversation is important for psychological well-being, people living alone should seek contact with family and friends via telephone or social media.
Why isolation is stressful
In general, psychologists consider the boredom in social isolation to be a particularly drastic change. When the cinema, concerts, pub, theater and other leisure activities are no longer possible, many people perceive this as a threat.
Experts therefore recommend being as active as possible. For example, those who play music, sing, meditate, read, write, do handicrafts, clean, tidy up, clear out the clutter or do their tax returns usually feel better. It is helpful to write down a list of the things you want to do and work through the planned activities every day.
Call a doctor if you have panic attacks
No one can currently say how long the exceptional situation caused by the corona virus will last. This can lead to a feeling of powerlessness and loss of control – up to and including panic attacks. In this case you should contact a doctor by phone.