How to handle self-isolation

John Deeks

Welcome back to Mind Your Own Retirement Dr. Kieran Kennedy is on the line, a practicing medical doctor, of course. Also, psychiatry resident with the degrees in psychology, medicine, surgery. He’s basically a genius and certainly knows all about the coronavirus issues at this time. Kieran, welcome to you on Mind Your Own Retirement.

Dr. Kennedy

Thank you so much for having me again John. It’s awesome to chat with you guys again and let me say that was far far too kind of an introduction but if I can offer up any of my knowledge.


John Deeks

YourLifeChoices members are searching for a lot of information, not trying to be alarmist, but we want the facts. What are the facts that you know at this stage in Australia with the virus?

Dr. Kennedy

So, I guess at the moment, what we obviously know and anyone sort of plugged into the media at all will know that the corona virus is a serious issue here. But I guess something that I wanted to kind of really point out is that it’s really good to see that some of the measures coming in place, like the social distancing and isolation and things – are slowing the rates that are occurring here. So that’s something to point out straightaway that’s actually really positive that we’re seeing in Australia really.

John Deeks

Kieran, all the implications, of course, are magnified for older Australians.

Dr. Kennedy

Obviously, my work, I do a lot of work in mental health. And so talking about the implications for the older Australians in terms of, you know, some of the physical risks and implications with the virus, but also some of the mental impacts for older people within the community as well. It’s really important that we touch on some of that aspect of the virus as well.

John Deeks

A lot of our members to YourLifeChoices aren’t as able to get out and walk. They’re not as mobile as perhaps others. But exercise is a very important thing, all be it just walking around the block.

Dr. Kennedy

Yes. 100 per cent. And that’s a massive kind of passion point for me in terms of that intersection between our mental and physical health and exercise. And so from a physical health point of view, obviously even low levels of regular exercise like walking or even just making an active choice to be a bit more active within your home right now. So whether it’s doing the vacuuming, at a slightly faster pace.

John Deeks

Incidental light exercise.

Dr. Kennedy

Yeah, exactly. Like putting it into your day. And even some of the health work that we do regularly can be a good way to get the heart rate up a little bit. And that’s vital for our physical health, but also importantly our mental health right now. You know, because anxiety and fear is pretty high in everyone right now I think.

John Deeks

And we can watch far too much news and get too much information which for some can be detrimental. I’ve just come from my doctor and had my seniors flu shot. What is your recommendation?

Dr. Kennedy

Bravo there, John because I guess the recommendation is, particularly for older people, getting your flu shot is something we should 100 per cent be doing. You know, I think something we’ve been very focused on coronavirus, obviously, and that’s super important. But we also need to stay cognisant of the other areas of our health like we normally would if coronavirus wasn’t on the scene. And the time of year we’re coming into here in Australia, it’s vital for seniors to be getting their flu shot. And if you are a little bit more protected from the flu, it will also hopefully protect you a little bit more from some of the consequences of coronavirus potentially, as well.

John Deeks

As Janelle Ward said earlier, If you don’t wish to go to the doctor, go to your local pharmacy.

Dr. Kennedy

Yes. Yes, definitely. So some of those vaccinations are happening in pharmacies now. And so if people are worried about going into the doctor right now to get it. That’s an option, but I mean, discussing that with your local GP and the practice nurse in terms of how best to have that happen and help us to do it safely. That’s something that the clinics all over the country are obviously really thinking about as well. And we want people to get their flu jab. But thought is also really going into making sure that you are safe when that happens. So people shouldn’t be afraid to ask about that and ask about what’s the safest way to get the flu jab at the moment.

John Deeks

Great friend of YourLifeChoices on the line, Dr. Kieran Kennedy with some sage advice and for older couples Kieran and for singles, what three tips would you offer to protect their mental health and to guide them through this challenging time?

Dr. Kennedy

Yes. Fantastic question. And one that I’m obviously really passionate about and I guess tip number one for me would be just acknowledging it and talking about it. You know, I think everyone at the moment is feeling some level of fear and anxiety around what’s happening. But, you know, our seniors and the older members of our community. I think that that worry is obviously a little bit more heightened. So just talking about it, whether that’s with your partner or within your family or, you know, talking over the phone, if you live alone, just talk about how you’re feeling about it. That would be tip number one. Tip number two, I think, would be to like we sort of touched on John. Just be careful about your media input. I think a lot of people are starting to feel quite overwhelmed with it all. It’s kind of running on the channels and online 24 hours a day. We’re getting lots of conflicting information. And so I think if you’re noticing that is starting to make you a little bit anxious or on edge, maybe just block out one or two times a day that you check in on the latest statistics and advice and avoid kind of having it running in the background the whole day. It’s okay to limit that, if you’re finding it a bit overwhelming. And I think my third biggest tip for mental health would be even if we’re social distancing at the moment or we’re isolating within the house, keep a routine. I think one of the biggest changes for all of us, no matter what age we’re at has been that our normal routines and day to day life has just changed massively in the space of a week or so. So even if you’re at home, keep a routine for your day, get up and still do your morning routine. Get dressed, have your meals like you normally would. And schedule in some social contact and some exercise every day because these are the foundations that really kind of just keep our mental health on the front foot, and make sure that we’re, kind of, best prepared to get through this.

John Deeks

I’ve made a list of the folks that I want to make sure I keep in touch with every couple of days. And it’s good to have a list of people who you might be concerned about, or who you want to stay in contact with to say g’day, how you going and well, this is a crazy time and blah, blah, blah. But it’s just write it down. Write a list down of a few of your friends.

Dr. Kennedy

Hundred per cent. And I think a point that I’ve been talking to people about, that I’ve been seeing in clinic or seeing in my work has been having a list of those people. I love that idea, but also scheduling it in each day. You know, I think this is the time where we need to be knowing how important social contact is for us and we can get some of the mental and physical gains from social connectedness, even if we can’t physically be with a person. If we’re having that regularly, scheduling it in and being open and honest with what we’re feeling. That can still have massive benefits for our mental health. So, yeah, I love that idea about writing it down and scheduling it in.

John Deeks

I know Janelle and the team at YourLifeChoices were putting up a lot of your tips on our web page Kieran. And we certainly thank you for giving up your valuable time at this time to speak to us on Mind Your Own Retirement.

Dr. Kennedy

Thank you so much John. It’s a privilege and I hope you and everyone else out there that’s listening are staying really safe and keeping well at the moment.

John Deeks

Too Right. Thank you, Kieran take care.

Dr. Kennedy

Thanks John.



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