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How seniors can cope with coronavirus anxiety

Posted By Angela W / April 22, 2020 / 0 Comments

Are you wondering why you are suffering from anxiety
during this coronavirus pandemic?




We are facing a global crisis – a unique time in the world’s history.  Close to 60 million people have had their lives curtailed by the Coronavirus, correctly  named Covid-19. Many South Africans have lost their jobs.  Exchange rates have affected Pensions.  Those who are able to work are working from home (many for the first time ever).  There are those who are considered to be part of the essential services, and they willingly leave the relative safety of their homes and go out to be heroes every day.  Grandparents are missing grandchildren.  Many seniors are on their own, with no back-up at all.  Money is short.  Some are crammed in shacks, several to a room.

Many of us are glued to our televisions.  Many of us are on our devices.  Many of us are drawn to Social Media.  We are all trying to make some sense of this confusing reality we all now face. We watch the news, and helplessly see the inevitable march of this virus throughout nations of the world.  We watch those same powerful nations struggling to cope with what is happening.  We watch You Tube videos of nurses and Doctors begging us to stay home and “flatten the curve” they say. We watch the same nurses and doctors begging governments to take this seriously.

And then at night, we switch off our devices and go to bed and wonder why we cannot sleep.  We wonder why our anxiety is sky rocketing,  and why our blood pressure or other illnesses are suddenly worse.


If this is you, you may well be suffering from Coronavirus anxiety


A certain amount of anxiety and worry is good to a point, because it stops us becoming complacent and helps us to be aware of what is going around us.  However, we need to ensure that these worries and anxieties do not overwhelm us and our lives. We need to also be aware that there is a lot of “fake news” out there which fuels our anxiety.  So many news items and images are not telling you the whole truth, or even part of it.

The profileration of fake news about the coronavirus pandemic has been labelled a dangerous “infodemic”.  Fake news is spreading faster and more easily than ever before throughout the internet, throughout social media and through instant messaging.  Fake news contains useless, incorrect and sometimes even harmful information and advice.  Fake news can hamper the public health response and fuel social disorder and division.  Fake news can be confusing, as it often contains a mixture of correct and inaccurate information.  It can easily be shared by family and trusted friends.


So what do we do:


  • Make sure of the facts. Get your news from trusted sources.
  • Avoid sensational headlines. Most non reputable sources will use sensational headlines to catch your attention and lure you in. 
  • Avoid people on social media that tend to spread half truths and sensational articles. We all have that one friend who tends to panic about everything and share things that she/he says is the absolute truth.
  • There are ways to check sources and images to see if they are accurate.  If you are able to, check the validity of articles.  If you can’t check the validity of articles, then use common sense an ask yourself “is this really possible”.   Consult with a family member that you really trust, one who has demonstrated that they are able to discern between true and false news.
  • Beware of the message that presses you to share – this is how viral messaging takes off.
  • Use fact-checking websites: Websites such as APFactCheck and Full Fact highlight common fake news stories. You can also use a search engine to look up the title of the article to see if it has been identified as fake news by the mainstream media.


Tips to avoid media overload:


  • Set boundaries for yourself.  Decide when and for how long you will watch the news or go onto Social media sites
  • Use technology in a different way.  Use it to connect with your family and friends – you can use Whatsapp video, Zoom, Skype etc
  • Help others.  Remember that there are many people also struggling out there.  Keep in contact with family and friends, and remember to keep the discussions positive and steer clear of the sensational.
  • Plan and structure your days with activities – housework, gardening cooking or watching TV. Try to keep to a routine.
  • Many religious organisations are streaming their services and meetings.  Think about rediscovering your spiritual side, if you are currently not spiritual.
  • If you have a mental illness,  keep in contact with your mental health professional.  Most psychologists are offering online counselling sessions or they can chat to you via the phone
  • Keep taking your medication.  Don’t stop taking medications because you feel better. It is best to consult with your doctor before making any changes to your health routine.
  • Get some exercise, even if its walking up and down your passage. Build this into your daily routine.
  • If you need help then reach out, call a friend, call a neighbour.  Let someone know that you are not doing well.


This pandemic has placed us all in a very unique position. 

We are all in this together, and need to combat it together and take the time to reflect on our shared humanity.



Article written by Angela Watkins, YEI  staff member







You’ve Earned It / YEI (https://youve-earned-it.co.za/),
the online retirement platform
for South African over-60s


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