COVID-19 has done more than upend our normal daily lives. It has also changed the way we socialize. Unfortunately, the same older adults that have been disproportionately affected by the virus have also been victimized by the changing social landscape. Many older adults that live alone, as well as those in senior living communities, are dealing with isolation and loneliness. This can have a devastating impact on their mental and physical health.
While the COVID-19 infection rates are dropping in some areas across the country, others remain high, and it is not safe for older adults to resume frequent in-person interactions. However, thanks to innovative technology that is widely available and easy to use, there are multiple ways to stay connected to the older adults in your life. Here are some methods that can help you stay connected to the older adults in your life, while also keeping them safe.
No matter how far apart you may be, you can still talk to someone face-to-face regardless of the distance between you. Apps like Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts and Google Duos are great ways to chat with your parents and grandparents during the pandemic. If both you and your family have iPhones, you can use the FaceTime app, which is Apple’s version of a video call.
Simply talking to your elderly family members isn’t the only way you can interact with them. You can play online games with them. You can play games like Uno and Monopoly on your desktop or laptop. If you want to use your smartphone and you like word puzzles, a game like Wordcrush is an excellent choice. These games and activities provide much needed mental stimulation for older adults, while also giving you an opportunity to share some quality time together.
Although technology has its perks, it’s not the only way to safely communicate and interact with your elderly relatives. There are certain in-person interactions that can be done while maintaining a safe distance. For example, a drive-by greeting for a special occasion like a birthday can help maintain some level of connectedness. If you don’t live near your relative, you can still organize a drive-by greeting with their friends and family that do live near them.
Join an Online Group or Club
Believe it or not, Facebook is one of the most popular online hangouts for people over 55. So, even if you or your older loved one has never used Facebook, it’s an easy fix. There are numerous online groups that cater to just about every interest on Facebook. In addition, there are also groups for seniors to chat and share experiences that combat loneliness and isolation.
While it feels like COVID-19 has already been around too long, it doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon. We may be socially distancing well into 2021. During this time, it will be important for everyone to remain safe by following recommendations made by the CDC (e.g., wear a mask, wash your hands, disinfect surfaces, etc.), get plenty of physical and mental exercise, and maintain social connections. These are just a few ways to stay connected to the elderly loved ones in your life and help them combat the effects of loneliness and social isolation.