We discussed eldercare & aging issues—including pandemic-related emotional health, compassionate communication, and reliable pandemic information.
Aging & Elder Care
A major theme of this month’s discussion was emotional distress and how to achieve better mental health. Participants described heightened feelings and symptoms of anxiety, loneliness and depression being noticed among family, friends, care partners and themselves in these times of increased social fragmentation, disinformation, political theater, chaos, threats of violence and pandemic uncertainty.
In addition to the excellent mind training and spiritual guidance available from our three Drepung Loseling Monastery Geshe-las via the internet, we discussed the regular Emory CBCT training and practice sessions and various other practical and spiritual resources that could contribute to good mental health.
One participant said she found comfort reading David Whyte’s poetry that describes a process rather than giving specific answers in finding your spiritual self. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Whyte_(poet). She also described a practical approach to calming one’s emotions, i.e., to shift your concerns from yourself to others by calling an old friend or relative that you hadn’t talked to for a long time to see how they are coping with the pandemic.
When seeking to support others who might be having difficulties but are reluctant to discuss them, one of our participants who is experienced in counseling recommended asking them open-ended questions and doing some deep listening. There are many useful articles and videos on how to do this on the internet, e.g.,
o Why Do Therapists Ask Open-Ended Questions? By Leonard Holmes. Verywell Mind; reviewed by Amy Morin, LCSW on April 14, 2020. https://www.verywellmind.com/open-ended-questions-2330693
o Open & Closed Ended Questions – Practice Liking People By Deborah Kerr & Rizwana Vird.Psychopaedia; May 15, 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wkKBq7l_dyk. [12:47]
o Video Interview with Rosamund Oliver on Deep Listening https://vimeo.com/272083318
After counseling others to let go of these concerns, care partners also need to let go—typically a more difficult task. The smaller breakout groups, which are available to viewers following the regular Emory CBCT Zoom programs, were recommended as excellent forums for such mindfulness work.
The lack of reliable information on the coronavirus and Covid-19 was a particular source of concern. Some recommended reliable sources of pandemic information are:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
– Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
– Frequently Asked Questions https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html
Atlanta Journal Constitution
– Coronavirus https://www.ajc.com/news/coronavirus/
Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Network (video interviews of top experts)
– Current Covid-19 Findings https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4p6bEngiRCN7TyTxZVJ3OQ
During the past week several eldercare members engaged in an email discussion about the mechanics of getting financial power of attorney as well as the advantages and disadvantages of doing it for a loved one who is losing their ability to effectively manage their own finances. At our next meeting we expect to have some additional discussion of such legal matters and welcome the participation of interested others.