Lianhe Zaobao: Dr Marcus Tan – Online contact with relatives and friends can improve mental and physical strength

In this article, Lianhe Zaobao interviews Chinese and Western medicine doctors to understand the best practices for the elderly to keep safe and busy during the coronavirus situation.

Dr Marcus Tan’s comments were cited in the article, providing recommendations on the elderly, digital technology and mental health. He remarks that with increasingly affordable smart phones and tablets, it becomes easy for the elderly to communicate with the outside world and this may be a chance for them to stay in touch with friends and relatives. He adds that this will also help to eliminate any sense of isolation brought about by lifestyle changes.

Dr Marcus Tan cautions that overreliance on mobile phones carries the risk of addiction for people of any age and setting aside schedules to talk, play games and learn new skills online is important in balancing between indulgence, and taking care of one’s emotional wellbeing.

However, he acknowledged that not every senior is able to work a mobile device and encourages young people to work together to help seniors buy daily necessities and food. Acts of kindness will not only lessen anxieties during this trialing period, it will also please the elderly.

On anxieties, Dr Marcus Tan recommends the elderly to learn physical and mental relaxation techniques such as meditation, prayer, and breathing exercises. The elderly can also lead healthy lifestyles at home by doing simple stretching exercises like Tai Chi, yoga, Baduanjin, and Qigong.