Scanning the globe for news by, for and about Senior Citizens
We are in a completely different place now than a year or more ago. The biggest thing for older adults and for all of us has been the game-changer, which has been vaccines.Dr. Martha Carmichael PEI internist geriatrician
Seniors give advice on true meaning of Valentine’s Day ❤️️
As restrictions at LTC homes ease, some worry relief will be temporary
Game on: new centre in Japan helps seniors connect with others through gaming
It took humour, courage and more strength than I knew I had
Leaning heavily on his walker, my husband Paul peers through the front window into the darkness, dreading the home-care worker’s arrival and his recurring loss of privacy.
“Don’t open the door when she comes!” he said.
Then he studies my face and adds: “I’m sorry to tell you this but I can’t see you any more.”
This strikes me as funny. I giggle aloud while stifling a belly laugh. He was recently diagnosed with moderate to severe dementia. Does he think I’m a girlfriend, not his wife of 43 years?
But dementia patients can also say things and mean something totally different.
I decide to face my tenuous marital status later in the bedroom: “Who am I?”
“What am I?”
This is seriously the best day since his discharge from hospital. I’m not banished to the guest room!
This is a story of misdiagnosis, and of our shared journey to recovery. It took humour, courage and more strength than I knew I had.
The Bottom Line
- Families, friends, students and workers have been able to stay connected and go about their business despite the confinement thanks to virtual communication platforms.
- Seniors may experience stress from using technology, despite their increased use of it since the start of the pandemic.
- People are increasingly experiencing “Zoom fatigue” (a term referring to the popular platform), which reflects the anxiety and exhaustion associated with overuse of virtual communication platforms.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the pandemic responses have turned our lives upside down. The closure of office spaces and schools, restrictions on visiting loved ones, healthcare facilities and nursing homes have greatly limited our ability to maintain “face-to-face” connections.
Our lives have quickly pivoted to virtual communication platforms to stay connected and go about our business. Overnight, happy hours with friends, birthdays, work meetings, homeschooling, medical follow-ups… everything was going to happen on the screen.
More and more people have been complaining of “Zoom fatigue,” a term referring to the popular videoconferencing platform. This expression reflects the anxiety and exhaustion linked to the overuse of virtual communication platforms such as Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, Google Meet or Microsoft Teams. Since the beginning of the pandemic, older adults, caregivers and families have been told over and over again to use technology to stay in touch, and to prevent and control the spread of the virus.
We know that technology can cause stress in older adults, as evidenced by studies conducted in 2016 and 2020 in people aged 60 and older. This “techno-stress” results from the ubiquity of information and communication technologies in modern society and their impacts: information overload, invasion of privacy, blurring between public and personal life, and pressure to develop digital skills.(1)
Although no robust systematic review could be identified about zoom fatigue among older adults and the general population, experts (including psychologists, computer scientists and neuroscientists) have raised a red flag. The overuse of virtual communication platforms could lead to cognitive distortions and non-verbal overload inherent in video communication. This could even increase feelings of isolation and anxiety.(2)
What can contribute to Zoom fatigue
A researcher from Stanford University in the United States recently published an article on the phenomenon of Zoom fatigue, which may be attributable to four main factors.(3)
1- Excessive eye contact
During a videoconference, seeing others in close-up and being stared at by several pairs of eyes is unnatural and creates performance anxiety.
2- Cognitive overload
In front of the camera, we are constantly on the lookout for our gestures to make sure we are sending the right signal to others. For example, we force ourselves to nod for long seconds or give a thumbs up to show our agreement, etc. Non-verbal language is thus controlled, which scrambles the signals sent and generates intense brain activity to decode them.
3- Loss of mobility
In a face-to-face meeting, non-verbal communication is done unconsciously and freely. During a phone call, people can walk, stretch, yawn, scribble. Not in front of a screen where we are forced to stay still and centred in front of the camera. All this greatly reduces our mobility and well-being.
4- The mirror effect
Seeing yourself on the screen, under an unflattering light and for many hours can have a perverse effect and generate stress or negative feelings. Nobody (or almost nobody) likes to look in the mirror all day long!