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10 Ways to Brighten a Senior’s Day During the Pandemic

Living in lockdown gets very lonely, especially for seniors who live alone. While it’s important for older people to remain at home as much as they can during the pandemic, it’s also important for seniors’ overall health to avoid the drawbacks of extended social isolation. 

Common stress sources for seniors at this time include:

  • Loneliness and isolation
  • Stress of facing possible COVID-19 infection
  • Lack of meaningful activities
  • Lack of a sense of purpose
  • Decrease in sensory stimuli
  • No social engagement

Extreme isolation in seniors can lead to despair, depression, poor physical health, stress, and worsening cognitive ability.

But there’s good news! There are some great ways you can brighten a senior’s day during this time, even if it’s not in person.

  1. Send a letter or care package. Seniors love to receive mail. Create a care package, write a letter, or make a piece of art to send to those you can’t be with. 
  2. Organize virtual group hangouts. Set a schedule so your loved one knows there will be something on the calendar each week and will have a few things to look forward to. You can use Zoom, FaceTime, or Skype, or simply a phone call.
  3. Start a virtual book club or podcast discussion. In order to make discussions more rich and interesting, choose a book, movie, or podcast to discuss on your weekly phone call. Some podcasts of interest include On Being with Krista Tippett, Lux Radio Theatre, TED Radio Hour, and This American Life
  4. Be a listening ear. Clinical social worker Elizabeth St. John said, “Be the person who will bear witness to their sadness, stress and anxiety and who will let them reminisce because this is a really sad time.” 
  5. Ask questions, gain wisdom. Dr. Karl Pillemer, gerontologist at Cornell University, says, “Talking to older people can really benefit younger people if they ask them ‘what did you do to get through hard situations like this?’ They want to be helpful, they want to be caring for their grandchildren… they want to be doing things for other people, but because they’re isolated, they can’t. It certainly makes older people feel more useful, more necessary, that what they can share is valuable.” 
  6. Take a walk. Set aside a time each week to get outside and take a stroll. This gives you and your loved one a chance to socialize, connect, and exercise while getting a breath of fresh air. 
  7. Drop off food or deliver groceries. This simple helpful task can make a senior’s day much easier and bring a smile to their face. Make sure to practice social distancing, wear a mask, and drop items off on the front step to avoid contact.  
  8. Keep a routine. Having a weekly phone call or Zoom meeting will give loved ones something to look forward to and a good way to connect during this time. Take weekly walks if you can to be around each other and talk and be outside. Continue traditions you practiced before, even if it has to be online or over the phone. 
  9. Volunteer or donate. Donate to nurses and local nursing homes– they might be in need of masks, meals, and more. Call nursing homes or senior centers in your area to see what they might need. Some might need donations, grocery delivery, or even have “friendship lines” on which you can volunteer to call seniors and chat. Donate to Meals on Wheels or Feeding America, both of which supply meals to those in need in this time of crisis. You can also donate blood, which is needed at this time. 
  10. Be prepared with a medical alert system. You wouldn’t want to be caught off guard in the case of an emergency with your loved ones. Be prepared by setting your loved one up with a medical alert system with an easily accessible button to press. Make sure it also includes a wristband or necklace with a help button so that your loved one can call for help at any time. You may even want to invest in a system with fall detection which will automatically notify emergency personnel if a fall occurs.

We hope this advice helps in helping the seniors in your life. When communicating, help them focus on the positives in life amid all the negativity right now. Staying safe and connecting with your loved ones will enrich your life as well. 

Joan Biddle
Joan Biddle is a Content Developer at Med-Alert Pros. With nearly 20 years of editing, research and writing experience, Joan crafts detailed, reliable articles that help people navigate complicated topics. She enjoys movies, reading, poetry and art.

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