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When we look at the impact of COVID-19 on the mental health of the elderly, it is easy to see social isolation, fear of sickness, and being denied in-person services as several of the top reasons for increased stress.
However, there is more to consider, such as the increase in crimes against the elderly, growing rates of anxiety and depression, and a decline in their ability to function.
Studies have shown that for those over 55 years of age, COVID-19 is three times more likely to be deadly if contracted.
The fear of dying and death related to the pandemic can easily lead to a lack of self-care, including following prescription medication instructions, which can have devastating physical and mental results. 
Even though more seniors than ever are dealing with mental health disorders, there is a stunning lack of psychological attention paid to this demographic.
It is hard to find therapy options for the elderly. This is especially true with the current heavy reliance on telehealth, which may be difficult for individuals with little technology experience. 
Some of the risk factors associated with the development of mental health disorders in people 60 years and older include the following.
Regardless of age, being the victim of a crime can cause significant mental distress for anyone. The elderly have always been at a higher risk of falling for scams and catfishing scenarios online.
Cybercrime has picked up substantially in 2020 as unsavoury individuals turn to the internet as a way to make money during the economic downturn.
It is easy to fleece lonely older people by pretending to be friends on social media or striking up friendships through a common interest site.
This is a danger that many older people and caregivers are not taking enough precautions to avoid. 
Being a victim of fraud increases the likelihood of developing mental disorders such as depression or anxiety.
Some of the common ways that the elderly are scammed online include the following:
Below, we share our latest infographic to illustrate the impact of COVID-19 on the elderly in a visual sense:
Avoiding these situations will help boost self-confidence and make it less likely that you or someone you love will be taken advantage of by criminals.
There are several ways to decrease the risk of becoming the victim of online fraud, including the following.
Keep your smart devices up to date with reputable security software
Never give out identifying or private information online or over the phone
Always check the identity of people who you meet online to ensure they are real (e.g., check social media, online yellow pages, etc.)
If you feel your information was in any way compromised, reach out immediately to your bank and monitor for suspicious activity. Be careful of downloading anything unless you are sure of what it is – this is especially true for email attachments
Isolation fears related to the pandemic and a lack of proper care are leading causes of many of the mental health disorders that are being reported. 
We list some of these issues below:
Depression is entirely treatable with therapy and medications. It is not an inevitability of growing older, and any sign of it should spark real concern and immediate treatment.
Older adults are often underdiagnosed for depression, so keeping an eye out for the symptoms can help. Indications of possible depression include lack of interest, changes in sleeping and eating patterns, lethargy, irritability, feelings of hopelessness, suicidal thoughts, and difficulty with memory and concentration.
Approximately 13.5% of people who need in-home caregiving are diagnosed with depression. 
There has been a reported escalation in elderly individuals who are having mental health relapses during COVID-19. This is primarily due to an increase in anxieties centred around the pandemic. 
The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) states that elderly individuals who are kept isolated from others are 50% more likely to develop dementia. The lack of mental stimulation and proper care leads to higher instances within 55 and older people. 
The suicide rate among men is highest among those 75 and older. Women are more likely to commit suicide in their late 40s to early 60s. 
With the mounting daily stresses caused by COVID-19, these statistics are expected to show higher in reports for 2020-2021.
So far, there has been a marked increase in PTSD, anxiety, and suicidal ideation in senior individuals. 
Whether they live in a long-term residential facility, alone, or with a caregiver, the risk for neglect and caregiver abuse is high. 
Before COVID-19, loneliness was a problem facing the elderly community. Since the start of the pandemic, that has increased in severity to the point where it affects more people than ever.
The CDC has reported that loneliness causes higher rates of suicide, anxiety, and depression.
Approximately 40% of the elderly population (65+) drink alcohol regularly. This can have the adverse side effects of interacting with medications and increasing cognitive issues, as well as the possibility of accidental injury. 
The negative physical and mental effects of isolation include the following: 
While staying in a hospital for COVID-19 or any other ailment, it is vital to ensure that the elderly are monitored for a worsening of mental health.
The stringent lockdown measures active in most hospitals make it likely that anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideations that may already exist will be magnified.
This can be mitigated by prioritising emotional wellbeing and checking-in regularly with them about how they feel and what might make the stay more bearable.
A high percentage of elderly people are contracting COVID-19, with some estimates putting the number at as high as 14%. 
News and the media have reported that older individuals are forced to go without ventilators when they are in high demand. This has increased the high level of fear already attributed to the pandemic.
While coping with these anxieties, other problems face the most vulnerable elderly, including abuse, neglect, and a lack of social support.
Being isolated from friends and family can be devastating for people who have no other significant social interactions. Loneliness, a sense of helplessness, and a lack of meaning in daily life can lead to the development of mental health disorders or a relapse of previous disorders.
There has been an increase in neglect cases in care homes, which has led to mental disorders such as depression and anxiety and a decrease in overall health. 
Unlike people who are living in independent care housing or with their families, most individuals in a long-term care facility do not have the option of going out to the store or a park to deal with the cabin fever of extreme isolation.
Some areas have not even allowed in-person visitations for the elderly in care homes since the introduction of COVID-19 related changes.
Stay in touch with your loved ones who may be suffering from loneliness during COVID-19. There are many ways to communicate (e.g., social media, texting, email, phone calls, video chats, etc.), and it will make a difference in the mental health of the people that mean the most to you.
Talking to them is a way to check in to make sure they are staying busy, healthy, keeping up with medications, and being taken care of if they are in long-term care.
Now more than ever, it is essential to know that they are being looked after properly. You can brighten up their entire week by reaching out.
Feeling left out of significant life events can be devastating for older parents and grandparents, so share these events through video and pictures if they cannot attend personally.
Being included in the milestones of people they love will help fight against the anxiety and sadness that can grow during isolation.
There has been an increase in sleep disorders among the elderly since the start of the COVID-19 related lockdowns in early 2020.
The direct cause varies from case to case, but restlessness and intense daily stress are a factor for most. One way you can help someone you love cope with their isolation is to make sure they are getting enough rest. 
They may need to talk with their doctor about getting some prescription medication to make it easier to regain a normal sleep cycle.
Maintaining a healthy diet is also important for continued physical and mental health.
It can be helpful to have a plan and goals for every day. Below are a few recommendations for things you can do to create a healthy, positive home environment if you are an elderly person coping with the pandemic and its isolation.
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