A safe space for anxious shoppers

As the social distancing rules are relaxing there has been an increase in those suffering from anxiety or panic. According to the charity Age UK, a third of people aged 60 or over have said that they feel more anxious these days. With lockdown measures easing some elderly people are left with a dilemma. They want to get out and about but the risks of infection from Covid is making them feel very anxious.

Some shops are now offering comfort zones for people suffering from social anxiety. This means that there will be specially designated areas made available where anyone feeling overwhelmed can go and get away from crowds or contact a support service, a friend or a family member.

The isolation that we have experienced may also make people feel overwhelmed in crowds where they might struggle to concentrate and feel overstimulated by the activity - all adding to a feeling of anxiety.

Safe spaces for those who are anxious

Well Pharmacy is teaming up with footballer Terry Butcher to create Comfort Zones across all 760 of their UK pharmacies, meaning that customers have somewhere to go if they get overwhelmed.

If your elderly relative is starting to think about getting out and about again, there are a few things you can do to support them. The pharmacy advises that your elderly loved one:

  • Faces the challenge at their own pace and in their own time. So support them until they’re ready.

  • Continues to follow pandemic guidelines by social distancing, washing hands and not sharing things like cutlery.

  • Meets others outdoors where possible.

  • Visits shops that practice Covid safety measures.

  • Avoids shopping at peak times or in crowded areas.

How do you recognise anxiety or depression in older people?

You can help to normalise your loved one’s anxiety or panic by having an open honest conversation with them. Let them know that you are there for them and try to support them with activities as they start to go out and about again. Maybe visit somewhere that you know has a space that can be used as a break-out area.

It’s also a good idea to learn to look for the signs of anxiety or depression. Keep in mind that symptoms can be different in everyone. Elderly relatives are, according to the charity Age UK, more likely to show physical symptoms with depression such as tiredness, weight changes or issues sleeping.

With anxiety, look out for constant worrying, a fast heartbeat or if they are feeling nauseous. Many people don’t realise that irritability can also be a common symptom. Your elderly relative might have less patience which can be brought about by changes to their lifestyle. This could be especially true if they have difficulty expressing their emotions or they have never experienced mental health difficulties before.

What equipment can help my elderly relative get outside?

You could also consider what tools would help reassure your loved one. This could include mobility aids like a stick, a rollator or a wheeled walker. A comfortable well-fitting pair of shoes can also make a difference. A pendant personal alarm with a fall detector is a great tool to reassure the anxious offering help at the touch of a button.

These pendant SOS buttons are discreet and will raise an alarm if your loved one has a fall - offering a lifeline. They also use GPS tracking which means that your elderly parent will be able to get help wherever there is a reliable mobile phone signal.

It’s easy to take for granted how anxious an elderly loved one might feel about going outside these days. Even simple tasks like going to the local shops could lead to your mum or dad feeling a little overwhelmed. Fortunately, businesses are keeping this in mind and there are tools and devices to help them cope with the changes.

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