Conquering Corona: How Seniors Can Respond to the Outbreak

Sam Bowman

You’ve faced a lot of obstacles in your life and have conquered them all, but the response to the COVID-19 pandemic is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. Our economy has ground to a halt. Our schools and business are shuttered. Our towns and cities are on lockdown. Religious services are being held online. Holidays are celebrated by computer.

All of this is being done, or so it is said, to protect people like you: senior populations and those who are sick or immunocompromised. But you are not, and have never been, a victim, and you are far from helpless. Your independent spirit and fighting heart are needed now more than ever as you prepare to survive a threat that you cannot see. This article discusses the best tips and tricks you can use today to ride out the pandemic with your health, your sanity, and your finances intact.

First Things First

When it comes to preparing for and responding to the coronavirus, the first order of business is to safeguard your health. That means practicing rigorous hygiene, wearing a face mask, and maintaining social distancing until the crisis passes in your particular area. The days of handshakes and hugs may be gone, at least for a while. Additionally, taking advantage of curbside pickup, food and pharmacy delivery, and store hours reserved for vulnerable populations is probably a good idea right now.

It also means doing your best to shore up your immune system to help you prevent infection or fight it off more effectively, especially if there is community spread in your area. This includes getting sufficient sleep and eating a well-balanced diet packed with essential nutrients. You’ll want to infuse your system with the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants your body needs to make it an inhospitable environment for any bug that would dare try to invade.

These are measures that won’t just protect you but will also protect those around you. Our already overburdened healthcare system, long beset by a shortage of doctors and nurses, now teeters on the verge of collapse. We need to collectively confront the surge. Anything you can do to relieve the burden on healthcare workers will benefit your community and its sickest patients.

Protecting Your Financial Health

Once your physical health is safeguarded, turn your attention to your financial health. Whether you’re already retired or preparing for retirement, the pandemic can pose a serious threat to your finances. After all, we’ve gone from a record-breaking economy to record-breaking unemployment in fewer than four weeks.

Now is not just a good time to take stock of your finances; it’s essential. An assessment of the state of your finances today can help you better predict the state of your finances tomorrow, no matter what may come to pass in these uncertain times.

Calculating your long-term debt to assets ratio, for instance, will help to ensure you have enough assets on hand to not be overwhelmed by your liabilities, even if these hard economic times should last for a while. You can also take advantage of the array of financial calculators, retirement and post-retirement planning guides, and mentoring resources available online.

It’s also important at this time to resist the urge to overspend, especially if you’re shopping online. You may be feeling bored, anxious, or worried, and that’s just when the temptation to “treat yourself” may be greatest. Right now, it can feel like a package coming to the door is the only thing to look forward to right now, but you don’t want a moment of indulgence and self-comfort to rob you of the future you deserve once this lockdown is over!

Fear Itself

Studies show that the greatest fear many retirees face is the fear that health challenges will derail their retirement dreams. For many seniors inundated with a daily barrage of bad news about the pandemic, it probably feels like those fears are coming true, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Whether you are living alone, with your spouse or children, or in a retirement community, you may be struggling with the anxiety and loneliness of social isolation.

That’s why it’s more important than ever to pay as much attention to your mental and emotional well-being as much as you do your physical and financial health. Make certain that you are reaching out to friends, family, and your healthcare providers for support, and don’t forget the wide array of mental health services available online, many at low or no cost!

This is also the perfect time to integrate gentle exercise and other stress-relieving, mindfulness practices into your daily routine. Consider journaling or meditation or taking a long walk around the neighborhood (properly distanced, of course) at the end of each day.

Above all, limit your intake of the news. Right now, it can be all too easy to get sucked into and consumed by the constant stream of updates, commentary, and health briefings which can make the personal threat seem larger and more immediate than it is right now. Limiting your daily dose of the news can help keep you properly informed while helping you maintain the perspective you need.

The Takeaway

As we contend with this “new normal,” it’s crucial that you take steps to protect yourself, physically, financially, and emotionally, from the particular threat this invisible enemy poses to seniors. Protecting your physical health means taking good care of yourself by getting good sleep and healthy exercise and by eating a nutritious diet. It also means practicing social distancing, wearing face masks when you’re in public, and being meticulous about your hygiene.

Now is also the time to protect your well-being in ways beyond the physical as well. Tabulating your long-term debt to assets ratio, for instance, can help ensure you’ll remain in good financial shape for the future, no matter what the pandemic might bring. However, your financial health won’t mean much if you’re in a constant battle with fear, anxiety, and loneliness. To protect your heart and mind, as well as your body, seek the support of friends, family, and mental healthcare providers to see you through these troubled times.

About Retire Early Lifestyle

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired three decades ago at the age of 38 and began traveling the world. As recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance and world travel, they have been interviewed about retirement issues by The Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine, The Motley Fool Rule Your Retirement newsletter, nationally syndicated radio talk shows and countless newspapers and TV shows nationally and worldwide. They wrote the popular books The Adventurer's Guide to Early Retirement (Your Simple Path to FIRE) and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible.
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