With all the social distancing and stay-at-home orders the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly been a game changer for most Americans. For many of the 14 million elderly adults in the US who live alone, social isolation and loneliness are constant companions- ones that are exacerbated by COVID-19 restrictions. Unfortunately, not interacting with others can quickly place an aging in place senior at risk for serious health problems. If you’re currently looking after an older loved one here’s how to keep them socially active in the age of COVID-19.
Health Problems Linked to Social Isolation
In general, seniors who routinely engage in meaningful, productive activities with others tend to be happier, healthier and live longer than those who don’t.
On the other hand, researchers have found that social isolation and loneliness can cause these physical and mental health problems in the elderly:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Cognitive decline
- Weakened immune system
- Premature death
To make matters even worse preliminary mental health studies have shown a correlation between COVID-19 stay-at-home orders and a rise in mental and emotional health problems.
Keeping Your Senior Loved One Socially Engaged
If you’re under the age of 65 you probably use the Internet often. According to a 2017 Pew research study millions of seniors still don’t. In fact, many elders don’t even have Internet access in their homes.
Start by setting your loved one up with a computer and good Internet provider and then show them how to surf the Web. Once that’s done, here’s how to keep them socially active engaged in the age of COVID-19:
Teach your loved one how to use a virtual chat service like FaceTime or Skype and then schedule a time for family members to all chat together while doing activities like reading favorite poems, praying, sharing inspirational messages or just enjoying some laughs.
Even if it’s only for a few minutes stay connected with your loved one with a daily phone call. If you’re at work or otherwise tied up send a quick text message or email instead. Reaching out every day to a home-bound elder will provide you both with much-needed reassurance.
Show mom or dad how to use social media to stay in touch with family members and old friends, or to meet new friends. They can also use various social media platforms to learn about new hobbies, find nutritious recipes or stay updated on current news events.
Organize your friends and family members to do a drive-by greeting for your senior, especially if it’s a special occasion like their birthday. Ask the kids help you make up signs for grandma or grandpa that’ll make them feel special and loved.
Even in the digital age most people like getting greeting cards and letters in the mail. Another way to stay connected with a sheltering-in-place senior is by sending them greeting cards with positive messages. For an added touch include a handwritten letter and some “artwork” from your kids. If those cards and letters are being well received turn it into a weekly routine.
Buy Them a Pet
Numerous studies have found that having a pet benefits seniors in many ways, including companionship and a sense of purpose. If they are otherwise healthy enough to care for a pet, find your senior a compatible dog or cat through an online pet placement service.
We Love Keeping Seniors Active & Socially Engaged!
Keeping an aging in place loved one socially active during the Age of COVID-19 can be challenging. When you need some assistance contact Home Healthcare, Hospice & Community Services (HCS). As a fully licensed home healthcare agency our mission is offering services that enable people to function throughout life at their optimal level of health, wellbeing and independence- including seniors who choose to remain in their own home.
Our compassionate, highly trained caregivers provide 5-star services to independent seniors in Southwestern New Hampshire. To learn more now about our COVID-19 safety protocols and 113-year track record of serving those in the community, please visit HCS at: www.hcsservices.com!