For older Americans, COVID-19 can be particularly isolating

BRYAN, Tex. (KBTX) - Right now, older Americans are inundated with messaging that calls them the population most at risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19.

“I think it’s making them fearful,” said Marcia Ory, founding director of the Texas A&M Center for Population Health & Aging. Ory is a sociologist behavioral scientist and chronic disease epidemiologist.

However, Ory says there is a way that seniors can hear and heed this messaging while also protecting their mental health: “Don’t be fearful; be concerned.”

Ory urges seniors to know the best public health practices and adhere to social distancing recommendations, but she says that doesn’t mean they can’t find ways to prioritize mental health, too.

“The old-fashioned thing is to get on the phone; talk to your friends, family, neighbors,” said Ory on First News at Four. “Or chat through FaceTime because I think it is important to see people.”

Ory says solitary moments don’t have to be negative, either.

“Take a walk, maybe with your dog—just be sure you’re not walking with packs of people,” said Ory. “Or enjoy nature…don’t just be sitting there glued to the TV.” She says the bonus of physical activity is another key factor to staying mentally (and physically) healthy.

Ory urges younger people to check in on their older loved ones, too. “We don’t want older people to be socially isolated,” she said.

But, at the end of the day, Ory puts the onus on older Americans to take action to fight the blues while social distancing.

“Find ways to stay connected,” said Ory. “You as an older person can be calling and doing things for others.”

For the full conversation, see the video player above.