There is an ongoing conversation about the worldwide spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and how to be prepared.
According to the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention, anyone can get infected by this virus, but older adults --- ages 60 and up --- are at higher risk for serious illness from it.
In Arizona, there have been 1,769 reported positive cases, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, fear and anxiety about this disease can be overwhelming especially for those who are at higher risk for COVID-19, such as older people, individuals with chronic diseases, and health care workers and first responders who are likely to come in contact with people infected with COVID-19.
While stress is a common physical and emotional reaction that people experience while confronting life’s everyday challenges, long-term stress may contribute to negative health outcomes, such as digestive and sleep disorders, headaches and other symptoms and conditions. Stress may worsen asthma and has been linked to anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses.
Now, more than ever, it is important to focus on your physical and mental health, so you can stay positive during this difficult time. Some important recommendations to do so include:
Physical activity. While recreation centers and gyms are closing, it is still important to stay as active as possible during this time. However, check with your doctor if you plan on significantly increasing your physical activity. Some options you may want to consider include:
How to manage depression and anxiety:
Eat right. Older adults should continue to eat healthy, well-balanced meals. We encourage patients to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables every day, and limit alcohol intake and foods and drinks high in sugar, salt and saturated fat.
It is extremely important that people at higher risk take the necessary precautions to reduce the risk of getting sick during this outbreak. The CDC guidelines include:
If you are experiencing anxiety or stress related to COVID-19, you are not alone.
In response to the outbreak, Optum is opening its emotional support helpline providing access to specially trained mental health specialists. This is a toll-free number and it will be open 24 hours a day seven days a week for as long as necessary. This is a free service.
Anyone in need of emotional support is welcome to call. The number is 866-342-6892. For more information about COVID-19 and the precautions you can take, please visit OptumCare.com.
Editor’s Note: Dr. Cary Schnitzer is Chief Medical Officer with OptumCare Arizona.