Coping with stress among the elderly during the pandemic | #elderly | #seniors | #execrise
A webinar was organised by the Diocesan Commission for Family, Life & Laity of Melaka Johore via ZOOM on Coping with Stress among the Elderly during this Pandemic with the speaker, Dr Joseph J. Panikulam, a Consultant Psychiatrist.
Apr 02, 2021
JOHOR BAHRU: A webinar was organised by the Diocesan Commission for Family, Life & Laity of Melaka Johore via ZOOM on Coping with Stress among the Elderly during this Pandemic with the speaker, Dr Joseph J. Panikulam, a Consultant Psychiatrist. The session drew over 50 attendees with the majority from those aged over 60. Dr Joseph, a member of the Catholic Doctors Association from the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur, is a Senior lecturer at Taylor’s University School of Medicine. He is also a Consultant Psychiatrist at the Mind Faculty, Solaris Mont Kiara and Valley Psychiatric Specialists, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur.
Dr Joseph also volunteers as Consultant Psychia trist for the Health Equities Initiative (an NGO providing mental health services for refugees in Malaysia).
The actual talk took a little over 30 minutes with the Q&A taking up the rest of the two-hour session, which ran overtime. Dr Joseph began by speaking generally about the conditions of the elderly – the change in marital status when a spouse dies, the hormonal changes and medical conditions as they degenerate. He also spoke of the impact of the pandemic on the elderly — how they are responding very cautiously because they are the most vulnerable, the rapid transmission of the virus globally, the media sensationalism, normal psychological fear and the pathological anxiety around the question “What if I get it?”
During the Q&A session, many expressed feelings of isolation, frustration, loneliness, depression and anxiety. Mental health becomes aggravated by pre-existing medical or mental conditions and medical conditions which affects higher psychological and psychiatric disorders.
However, according to Dr Joseph, it is found that severe mental disorders are less common in the elderly than in the young because of their experience and wisdom. In studies done in late 2020, it was found that older people showed more resilience to the situation.
Deacon Leslie Petrus who heads the Commission, also attested to this in his parish work. He shared that although the majority of them miss contact with their children who are not able to visit due to the travel restrictions, the elderly seem to be able to adapt and cope better with the lockdown.
Recommendations on how to cope included taking steps to protect personal health, following the SOPs on social distancing and sanitizing, obtaining genuine news via proper media channels, accepting the new normal, having and maintaining physical and emotional support despite isolation, having access to help, maintaining a daily fixed routine with meals, sleep, exercise, work and prayer and learning to use social media like WhatsApp and YouTube to stay connected.
This is the first of two sessions that the Commission has arranged with Dr Joseph. There will be another webinar session on Children with Special Needs come April 18.
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