There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed our lives. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that all people over 60 stay at home and that all care facilities and senior centers close to visitors, as the odds of contracting the virus increase significantly with age. Staying at home and avoiding crowds is essential for everyone, but it can lead to feeling isolated and lonely, both of which negatively affect mental and physical health. These effects impact most, but seniors are especially vulnerable.
Now is the time to reach out and connect with others by being creative—together!
Stay Connected to Others
If you or your loved one have smartphones, tablets, or laptops, apps such as Skype, Zoom, and FaceTime allow you to see each other as you talk. It’s a great way to connect with children, grandchildren, friends and neighbors.
Some seniors aren’t as great with technology, and in those cases, a good old-fashioned phone call is in order. If your loved one is hard of hearing, write them a letter to show them you care. Share specific things you remember about them so they can reminisce as they read or have the letter read to them by their caregiver. For loved ones suffering from memory impairment, this time can be particularly confusing, so don’t forget about them. One idea is to send photos (actual printed photos) of family and friends, writing the names and dates on the back.
Stay active and continue living your life.
Walk outdoors in open spaces, sticking to the social distancing guidelines. Take up yoga or Tai Chi. The internet and services such as YouTube have plenty of free workouts to explore. You can sync up with a friend and do the same activity “together.” Continue living your daily schedule the best you can. Wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast. Take breaks and get fresh air. Arrange a time to sit down with family and have a “long-distance” dinner together, again, using Skype or FaceTime.
Monitor News Intake
While it is important to stay informed and follow the guidelines as they are changing day to day, it can become completely overwhelming. Check reputable news sources only once or twice a day. The same goes for social media. While it’s a great tool to keep in touch with family and friends, there is also a lot of misinformation floating around that causes confusion and can add to the feeling of being overwhelmed.
Send Care Packages
With many seniors confined to their homes, it is important that healthy younger individuals help them access essential products and supplies. If you have the financial resources to do so, a care package can help your loved one weather these tough times. It will also remind them that they have not been forgotten.
Care packages can include hard-to-find items such as toilet paper, paper towels, hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes; non-perishable food items like canned soups, pasta, nut butters; puzzles, games and books; flower seeds or plants along with everything they need for a small kitchen herb garden. A favorite snack or homemade treat will be greatly appreciated.
Important Reminder: Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, before writing a letter, card, or sending gifts. If you are sending a care package to a loved one, please be sure to let them know so they or their caregiver can take appropriate precautions.
Participate in Online Events
If your loved one or their caregiver enjoys art, several well-known museums have “virtual” tours that you can take and get an up-close look at famous works. Have a guitar? Fender is giving free online lessons to help during this time. Participate in online spiritual services to lift the mood, connect with others and stay positive!
Seek In-home Care
Keeping seniors safe at home is a top priority for many adult children as they try and balance their own family needs with that of their parents. Achieving perfect balance is especially difficult with the pandemic as they adapt to new roles working at home, learning how to teach their children and cooking every meal, every day.
A caregiver is a professional who can help you meet these needs and take a burden off the plate. If you or your loved one need extra help such as disinfecting surfaces in your home, light housekeeping and laundry, preparing meals, medication reminders, prescription and grocery pickup, Assisting Hands® Home Care can help with these tasks. The caregivers are trained in coronavirus protocol and can provide safe in-home care, while minimizing risk of exposure.
Now more than ever, we need to look out for one another. Our octogenarians are no strangers to hardship and doing without. The seniors amongst us are the toughest, most resilient and resourceful of people, and they have been deeply impacted by this pandemic. Once this has passed and restrictions change, feel good in knowing you have done your part to help yourself and others stay safe—mentally as well as physically—and continue these connections.