We can all agree it has been a challenging year for seniors and professionals. A pandemic has disproportionately affected older adults and their families, causing stress and heartache. This winter will test everyone’s resolve to stay safe and find creative ways to continue to do business and serve our clients.
What to Expect
Winter, unless someone lives in sunny Arizona, can be difficult for seniors, even during normal times. And these are not normal times. Darker days and cold weather are a recipe for mood disorders like depression. As professionals, these are some things to watch out for with your clients and family.
Studies show that social isolation and loneliness are significant risk factors for physical and mental health problems. So, what we have is a perfect storm of imposed quarantines on seniors and a cold dark winter. This problem needs to be addressed aggressively and creatively. Otherwise, frail and vulnerable seniors will only get worse.
It can be a significant challenge to advocate for families of seniors living in assisted living and nursing homes under quarantine. How can you solve problems if you don’t know what they are? This is where Home Care Assistance can be of value. Caregivers can manage and monitor the care of loved ones and report back to the family.
Assisted Living and Nursing Homes are Changing
The assisted living and nursing home industries have been hit hard by COVID. Approximately 45% of deaths from COVID have occurred in these communities. Families are faced with the decision about whether to remove family members from these facilities to protect them. Also, families are considering whether to place a loved one in a senior community at all.
The Risk of Depression Increases in the Winter
Seniors already at risk for depression due to loneliness are facing shorter and darker days. Reduced sunlight affects serotonin and melatonin levels, which affects mood and sleep. Anyone can have seasonal affective disorder, not just seniors. Medicare covers teletherapy for seniors, so spread the word! Depression is not a normal part of aging, and psychotherapy effectively treats mood disorders in seniors.
What to Expect
Professionals have already seen some pretty dramatic changes to how they do business. How significant depends on where you live. Some states and regions have strict protocols and others not as much. In either case, expect the next year and beyond to look very different.
Many professionals have already adapted to working remotely to keep themselves, their clients, and their families safe. Remote working can be a challenge if you aren’t used to it. Make sure you develop a routine and space that is conducive to productivity.
Marketing Your Business
Remember all those great lunches, conferences, and marketing meetings? At the moment, those are on hold and will be so probably through most of 2021. Many professionals worked around these restrictions by meeting outside when weather permitted. This winter, that will not be possible in most states.
Professionals will need to stay connected in other ways. Phone, email, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams are already in full swing for many professionals. Planning and the use of technology for face-to-face interacition will be vital to keeping your business growing.
Staying Connected with Clients
For professionals who serve seniors, those clients need you now more than ever. Don’t count on them to reach out.
How to Prepare
- Hunker Down. Although there is hope on the horizon about vaccine development, be prepared to continue to work remotely. Doing so during the winter months can feel isolating, so make plans to prevent feeling disconnected.
- Be Creative. Take a creative approach to your business and your clients. The strategies you develop now will only help you later when the spring thaw comes, and things start to return to normal. Develop a schedule for reaching out and connecting with clients and other professionals.
- Stay Flexible. One lesson we can learn from the seniors we work with is how flexible they are in the face of adversity. Accept that the way we do business and the senior market has changed. Adapt to that change by staying flexible.
What Lies Ahead in 2021
2021 will be interesting. None of us knows that lies ahead, but we can bet that things are changing. The senior living industry, in particular, has suffered some setbacks, which they are just now beginning to recover from.
To grow and improve your business, you will need to find new ways to market. Seniors will need you more than ever, but perhaps in different ways. Staying informed about industry trends will help you stay on top of your game and respond to market needs.
Dark Winter for Professionals and Seniors: Challenge and Opportunity.
As we enter the short, dark winter months, remember that the winter solstice starts our journey back to longer, sunnier days. Keep an optimistic attitude towards your business and your clients for a rewarding journey through 2021 and beyond.