Just when we thought things were going back to normal, Omicron and other Covid-19 variants have come along and forced us to again weigh safety against staying connected to our families. For Seniors, risking infection can have potentially dire consequences but becoming isolated in one’s home carries its own set of risks. Studies show that loneliness and social isolation are associated with higher risks for health problems such as heart disease, depression, and cognitive decline. Thankfully, we live in a time where there are many no-contact options for communication. Below are our top tips for staying connected to seniors during Covid-19.
Learn New Technology
FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, Facebook, and Marco Polo offer free video chat options for communicating with friends and family. You don’t have to be tech-savvy! Using the essential functions is easy and if setting up an account seems daunting, ask a family member or neighbor for help. If that’s not an option, YouTube has easy-to-follow tutorials for just about everything.
Engage with your Community from Home
Feeling like you’ve lost track of what’s going on in your town can make you feel more isolated than ever. Many local organizations such as political groups, church groups, charities, social clubs, etc., rely on volunteers to make phone calls and offer ways to participate that don’t involve meeting in person. Groups that used to meet in person now often offer digital meetings via Zoom or hybrid sessions with some participants in person and some on Zoom.
Use the Buddy System
The CDC recommends that communities create buddy systems to make sure that vulnerable and hard-to-reach people stay connected. If you have a friend or family member that you know is struggling with isolation, make a regular phone or video chat date. You can even have several! We’re all in these challenging times together, and most of us would benefit from more time spent connecting with others, so never be shy to ask.
Start a New Activity
Ever wanted to play guitar or sew a quilt? Any new activity you want to start during Covid can help you stay connected without having to meet anyone in person. There are Zoom lessons for everything right now, and they’re affordable and easy to find. You can even find a friend to start the activity simultaneously, so you have someone you’re already familiar with to talk to about it.
Parks and hiking trails offer a beautiful place to break the monotony of staying home all the time. If you take appropriate precautions, you can even meet friends or family there and catch up. Getting outside and walking is one of the best exercises for seniors, mentally and physically, and can help you stay mobile and independent. If you find walking boring, audiobooks and podcasts can keep you company. Many local libraries allow you to check out audiobooks for free right from your phone.
Social distancing does not have to mean social isolation. Our tips for how seniors can stay connected during covid can help us all stay healthy and strong. With a bit of effort and flexibility, it is possible to stay connected to our loved ones, deepen connections, and thrive. If improving your mobility inside your home would improve your daily life while we’re all spending more time at home, get in touch with one of our aging-in-place experts to find the right mobility solution for your home.
For More Information About Loneliness and Social Isolation
Family Caregiver Alliance
Meals on Wheels America
National Council on Aging
NIA Alzheimer’s and related Dementias Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center