Coronavirus has dramatically changed the way we interact with family and friends, most especially our elderly loved ones. Reducing physical isolation from the community is an effective way to protect the elderly population from the coronavirus, especially now that delta variant cases have been on the rise.
It is very important to know that loneliness can cause serious health issues, especially in seniors. It can contribute to a higher risk for anxiety, depression, mental decline and other medical conditions.
During the coronavirus pandemic, how can you help your loved ones or elderly neighbors stay socially connected? It’s not always easy to know how to help someone combat the feeling of loneliness. It is a tough situation to be in, particularly if the senior lives alone.
Communication is key. Be sure to communicate to the elderly that social distancing and staying home are crucial for their safety and protection against the coronavirus.
Be creative in finding ways on how to constantly connect. Here are some ideas on how you can help the elderly avoid the feeling of being socially isolated during the coronavirus:
- Connect Regularly
Staying in touch on a regular basis during this coronavirus pandemic is very important. Be sure to regularly call, text, email or do video calls with them to check how they are doing. Video calling has been very popular as it helps make people feel that they are together even though they’re physically in different places.
Try scheduling your calls at a certain time every day or every week so your elderly loved one has something to look forward to on a regular basis. They will love this.
- Creative Social Distancing
If you have an elderly neighbor who lives alone, stop by while practicing safe social distancing. Maybe leave a note on their front door or put a note by their window to let them know that you are thinking of them. If you see them, wave and try to talk to them but be sure to always keep your distance (at least 6-10 feet away).
Don’t forget to ask them to call or contact you if they need anything, especially groceries and reordering/picking up their prescriptions or perhaps help with taking the trash out.
- Share your Food
If you are cooking, it would be very thoughtful to cook a little extra food so you can give it to your elderly neighbor or friend. Just make sure, you are aware of any allergies or special diets they may have before giving them food.
When you’re done cooking, put the provisions in disposable containers. Please be sure to sanitize food containers before dropping them off. They can even microwave the food for 30 seconds to a minute to ensure any potential germs are cleaned.
It would also be a nice gesture to include a note saying you are thinking of them.
- Introduce them to Social Media
More and more seniors have started using social media to connect with families and friends. If your elderly neighbor or loved one does not have a social media account, it’s a good time to set one up for them. This can help make it easier for seniors to stay updated with friends and family.
- Play Online Games
There are several websites and apps on the phone that offer free online games like sudoku, crossword puzzles, solitaire, words with friends, etc. Ask the senior what her/his favorite game is so you can play together.
- Watch Movies Online
If the senior loves to watch movies, it would be a great way to spend time together virtually, since you can’t be together physically watching a movie. There are websites and apps that allow you to watch movies together like Netflix Party. It synchronizes your screens to do a video playback and it even has a group chat so you can chat while watching.
Now this is a great way to make watching at home fun.
- Join eBook Clubs
If the elderly person loves to read books, encourage him/her to join an eBook Club or discussion forums. This is a great way to stay connected with people who have the same interests.
Another option is to arrange a book club with your family or community. Ask one person from the group to pick a book to read for the entire week. At the end of the week, you can do a video call with the entire group to discuss the details of the book and get feedback from each other.
This is a great way to stay connected while providing mental stimulation for your elderly loved one or neighbor.
- Exercise with them
Staying active is very important in staying healthy. You can invite your neighbor to go for a walk but be sure to practice social distancing by staying at least 6 feet away from each other.
Another option is to check YouTube, Instagram and other sites for free home workout routines. You can perhaps do exercises with the elderly through Facetime, Zoom, other video platforms or maybe do it together outside while at least 6-feet apart.
- Write letters
Although, most seniors have a smart phone and/or computer, most of them still prefer to communicate the old-fashioned way. They love receiving hand-written letters. If you are planning to write them a letter, be sure to wash your hands before and after.
It would be good if you can put the letter in the Ziploc as soon as you’re done writing. Maybe wipe the Ziploc with antibacterial wipes before dropping it off to your neighbor’s house just to be safe.
- Give them a care basket.
Simple acts of kindness go a long way. It would be nice to drop off a basket full of thoughtful items for your elderly neighbor. Put some essentials she/he may need during the duration of this coronavirus pandemic. You can put some snacks, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, vitamin c, mask, gloves, crossword puzzle, etc.
Through constant communication and kindness, we can help the elderly population avoid the feeling of loneliness or being socially isolated. These are great ways to make them feel loved and always remembered.
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Catharine “Kate” is a Certified Administrator for Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly (RCFE) and an Expert Senior Care Advisor. Kate’s grandmother battled Alzheimer’s Disease and Kate personally understands what millions of families are going through. Kate and her team are very passionate in empowering Seniors and their families by providing them with the Best Available Senior Care Options based on Senior’s care needs, preferred location and family’s budget.
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