The spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) has put a strain on a lot of people, particularly seniors who are at a higher risk due to their age and preexisting conditions. In addition to changing your everyday habits and routine, self isolation or quarantine can make it hard to stay in touch with your loved ones.
The methods of socializing may change right now, but with technology, you can remain social and keep up with your friends and family while remaining safe in your home. Seniors who are socially active will see physical and emotional benefits as well.
According to the National Institute on Aging, health problems are more prominent during social isolation. Some of the health problems can include: Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety, cognitive decline, and depression.
You can continue your socializing and prevent health problems by participating in some of the following activities with technology.
Set up a routine with your loved ones, whether it is daily, weekly, or monthly. Check in with each other during these scheduled talks. If you find yourself running out of things to discuss, consider playing a simple game while on the phone.
Talking on the phone a few times a day can help reduce feelings of social isolation and loneliness. You can take this time to share new and old stories, read aloud, or even tell jokes.
If a video call is an option, you should take advantage of it. Beyond having a conversation, being able to see someone in front of you while you talk can significantly decrease feelings of isolation.
Apps like FaceTime, Skype, and Zoom are available to most people with a smartphone or tablet and are free to use. Most video chat apps now allow you to include more than one person so that groups can socialize together.
Writing a letter may seem a bit dated with all of the technology options that are available, but receiving a letter or package in the mail can give someone some extra excitement that a phone call may not be able to give.
You have the opportunity to get more creative when you are sending a letter or care package. You can personalize your paper, writing utensils, and include something extra like a CD, photo, or pressed flowers. If grandchildren are involved, you can include a craft made especially for them.
Book, movie, and TV groups are not uncommon, but with social distancing in place, they can provide some needed entertainment and socialization. Rather than meeting up in person to discuss a book or watch a movie, you can get a group together and agree on a book, movie, or TV show that everyone will watch to later discuss. You can discuss over a phone call or a group video call.
You should also consider an audio book or podcast that the group will enjoy. Stimulating your mind can help your physical and mental health.
Most businesses and large group events have either been canceled or moved to online meetings. Some examples of groups that have embraced online meetings include religious gatherings, exercise classes, and business or creative classes.
If you can not search yourself, ask for help from your loved ones on signing up for these classes and downloading the proper apps. Browse through your online options and sign up for an exercise class that sounds interesting, or virtually attend the church you have been curious about for a while now. If there is a skill you have wanted to explore, but did not know how or did not have the time, now is that time. Sign up for a class that will teach you something new while you are at home.
Some stores have designated times for seniors to come do their shopping to keep the risk and exposure to the virus to a minimum. However, if you have the option, you should order your groceries and other supplies online for delivery. This is the safest way to get what you need while avoiding putting yourself or a loved one at a higher risk.
If you do not have any delivery options available to you, ask your loved ones if they can drop off what you need at your door.
You may already have a medical alert system for yourself or loved one, but now is a time that having an extra safety net can not only keep you safe, but also keep you connected. While some systems will call for emergency help or connect you to a call center with medically trained staff, you can also set up your system to call your own list of connections for help.
If you find yourself in a situation where you have fallen and been injured, you may not have someone who will be around to help due to social distancing. Owning and wearing a medical alert system can give you the sense of security that seniors need during this overwhelming time.
It is crucial that seniors and other groups that are at a higher risk are staying home and social distancing as much as possible. Since a vaccine is not expected until 2021, it is important that COVID-19 is taken seriously and all precautions available are taken.
Although it can be hard at times, there are plenty of ways to help seniors stay connected socially and not end up a victim of social isolation or loneliness.