Jewish Family Service Aims to Alleviate Return Anxiety of Returning Elderly Clients


After more than a year locked at home to avoid catching or spreading the novel coronavirus, more and more people are once again venturing out to dinner, shopping and walking in public.

But despite the renewed sense of freedom that vaccinations have given them, many people are still cautious – even worried – about ending up with strangers again.

In a survey of 1,016 adults aged 50 and over, released in May, the AARP found that most participants reported increased sadness or depression caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and 80% of those surveyed reported increased worry about the future, worry or anxiety. .

The Jewish Family Service of San Diego aims to alleviate feelings of anxiety in its senior clients as they take their first steps towards a sense of normalcy, said Colleen Cook, care manager for the association’s Aging Care Services program. .

Tips to relieve back-to-school anxiety

To help relieve feelings of anxiety, Cook suggests taking the following steps:

Measure risks versus benefits while being realistic in assessing what is making you nervous and scared.

Give yourself credit reminding yourself that what may seem like a small step can in fact be a very big step towards normalcy.

Celebrate your achievements on days when you feel comfortable going out.

It’s okay to take healthy risks, like going out for a walk with friends and family.

Give yourself grace and be patient as you navigate the newly reopened world.

At the onset of the pandemic, the Jewish Family Service pivoted to meet growing customer needs through virtual programming and home meal deliveries. The number of deliveries has grown from around 400 meals a day to around 1,600, Cook said, and although the senior center has ceased to operate in person, he has started hosting Zoom meetings to help the elderly. and their caregivers to stay socially connected.

As the months dragged on and things slowly began to reopen, they saw a new need to help people with reintegration anxiety, both internally and for the communities they serve.

“Something that we have noticed as we go through the trauma of the pandemic is that it has not only happened to our customers, it has also happened to us,” Cook said. “We’ve all been through this trauma and heartache of things we haven’t been able to do in the past year.”

By working with their clients through one-on-one counseling sessions and support groups, they aim not only to reduce the stress associated with back-to-school, but also to make sure people know it’s okay to be. nervous about going out, especially now that many people choose not to wear more masks.

A client, Sandra Seay, a resident of La Jolla Shores, said her participation in the mourning class at the Jewish Family Service had helped her cope with feelings of anxiety caused by the pandemic as she mourned the death of her husband.

When the pandemic began, the 76-year-old had spent a decade caring for her husband, Thomas Edgington, who suffered from dementia and was on the Jewish Family Service’s adult day program. He continued to participate in some of the programs when they moved to a virtual format, but to protect their health, the couple mainly stayed in isolation at home to stay safe from COVID-19.

“We’ve both been cut off from the world – our world has really shrunk,” Seay said. “Our lives have become very narrow and without having a nice big yard I don’t know what we would have done as it gave him peace to look at the green grass and go with his walker for a walk. walk.

When he died in January at the age of 88, she felt in the dark for months, especially since she was unable to host his funeral immediately due to the pandemic.

Although she was vaccinated for a while as a participant in the Moderna trial, she is just starting to return to shopping and other activities. Attending the bereavement group and working with the other participants and the rabbi who leads it helped her to be more relaxed when going out in public.

“Any awareness that you may need has been and still is very supportive with me,” Seay said. “I find that I look forward to the days when I zoom in with them and see them – they are my family.”

For more information about the Jewish Family Service of San Diego and its programs to meet the needs of San Diego residents of all ages, religions, and cultural backgrounds, visit or call (858) 637-3000.

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