The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on everyone – especially older adults. According to a new AARP study, the majority of those ages 50 and older say the pandemic has increased their level of depression (69%), anxiety (68%), and level of concern about the future (77%).

The good news is that there are things you can do to improve your senior loved one’s mental health and help them keep a positive outlook on life. Experts suggest you do the following:

  • Make sure they’re eating well.

    A healthy, well-balanced diet can improve your senior’s mood and overall sense of wellbeing.

  • Keep them moving.

    Whether it’s walking, gardening, or swimming, 30 minutes of physical exercise three to five times a week can help reduce anxiety and take their mind off their worries. Low impact activities can also help reduce the risk of common age-related problems like joint pain, bone fractures, and chronic ailments.

  • Take them outside.

    A little fresh air (if it isn’t too hot and humid) can instantly boost their mood and energy level.

  • Busy their brain.

    Just as the body needs physical activity and stimulation to stay healthy, the brain needs stimulations to stay sharp and avoid cognitive decline. Any activity that keeps the mind engaged and working toward solving problems contributes to brain health. Some of the most common activities are reading, journaling, working puzzles, and playing games.

  • Include them in family gatherings.

    While there may be challenges, like limited mobility or dementia, it’s important to include your senior loved ones in family visits and celebrations. Try to accommodate their needs by planning events around their schedule and making the space accessible and comfortable for them.

  • Help them stay connected with friends.

    Time and distance make it difficult to maintain relationships, especially as we age. However, keeping in touch with special people can help stave off loneliness and feelings of isolation that can lead to mental health decline. If in-person visits aren’t possible, encourage them to video chat, talk by phone or write letters.

  • Find volunteer opportunities.

    Many organizations need support, so there are many possibilities for older adults to donate their time – even if they’re unable to leave their homes.

  • Dust off their bucket list.

    It’s never too late to learn a new language, pick up a musical instrument or experiment with French cuisine. Retirement is the perfect time to pursue life-long goals.

  • Make sure they’re getting plenty of sleep for their mental health.

    Lack of sleep is linked to a number of health issues, including anxiety and depression.

  • Consider a pet.

    If it’s possible, a pet can help your senior stay active and busy, while providing companionship and unconditional love.

If time or distance limits one-on-one time with your senior loved one and prevents you from checking in on them, HCAN can help. Whether it’s for just a few hours a week or around the clock, our trained, professional caregivers provide companionship while keeping seniors active and engaged. For more information, visit