Coping strategies offered for seniors during pandemic

By: Alex Szwarc | C&G Newspapers | Published October 6, 2020

Shutterstock image


CLINTON TOWNSHIP/MACOMB TOWNSHIP — As part of its “Living Well at CMPL” series, the Clinton-Macomb Public Library hosted a Zoom presentation Sept. 23 regarding mental health during COVID-19.

Marcia Relyea, a gerontologist with CARE of Southeast Michigan, shared coping strategies for COVID-19.

The presentation was titled “Help for older adults with mental/emotional difficulties during COVID-19.”

Relyea, who works with the older population and conducts educational seminars, provided tips for folks to use for themselves and those around them.

The event covered the importance of identifying who is an older adult, where they live, and advice on how to stay connected to combat loneliness.

“If you are an older adult, what do you prefer to be called?” Relyea asked. “When we talk about older adults, we tend to think of a group. It’s important to see older people as individuals.”

In terms of who older people are, she said Medicare eligibility starts at 65.

“Where you’re born and grow up, has a lot to do with how we think and behave today,” she said. “Other things to consider are their current mental, physical, emotional, social and financial circumstances. A lot of this has to do with how we can manage under COVID.”

For living arrangements, Relyea said current living arrangements may be one of the most important factors to consider during COVID-19.

“What is your support where you live and can you reach out to people and be social where you live?” Relyea said.

She acknowledged that with COVID-19, all relationships are strained.

To manage mental health, Relyea said it’s important to manage oneself.

“We’re not going to get rid of a lot of what’s going on, but how can I best manage myself to get through today?” she said.

Relyea added that helping others, and letting others help you, is big.

“If we can reach out and help somebody else, it helps them, but also helps us to know we have served somebody else,” she said. “We also have to be able to help others help us.”

Tips she offered to remain mentally sharp during the pandemic include enjoying music and anything related to the arts.

“Think of what your favorite music is and what can get you up and going,” Relyea said. “I also know from working with older people for quite a long time is that almost everybody of an advanced age responds to patriotic music.”

Other tips are praying for someone, reading the Bible or other religious text to provide comfort, and looking at family pictures.

Meghan Mott, outreach librarian at CMPL Main Branch, said that since May, the library hosted a poetry walk at the Clinton Township Tomlinson Arboretum.

The walk concluded Sept. 27 and offered folks a chance to find poems placed throughout the natural setting of the park.