Helping yourself or your loved one keep loneliness at bay during the pandemic

Woman communicating with family online

There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed our lives. The 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 affects mental and physical health. 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 your grandchildren! 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. For loved ones suffering from dementia and who are living in a care facility, this time can be particularly confusing, so don’t forget about them. Send photos of them with 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 distancing guidelines. Take up yoga or Tai Chi. YouTube has plenty of free workouts to explore. You can sync up with a friend and do the same activity “together.” Continue living your daily life 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 your 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 the news 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.

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. 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. Drop it by their porch or mail it.

Participate in online events.

If you or your loved one enjoy 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 your mood. Stay positive!

Seek in-home care.

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, consider Assisting Hands® Home Care. Their staff of caregivers are trained in coronavirus protocol and can provide safe in-home care, while minimizing your 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.

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 in a care facility, please be sure to call ahead and ask about their policies.