Stay home as much as possible. That’s what we’ve been hearing for months in the wake of COVID-19.
And for good reason.
Experts believe that coronavirus is mainly spread from person to person – sometimes by people who aren’t even showing symptoms. So, it makes sense to avoid others if you want to avoid getting sick. This advice is especially important for older adults, as the risk for severe infection increases with age.
Unfortunately, avoiding others isn’t as easy as it seems. Staying home all the time and not seeing friends or family members can be emotionally difficult, even for the most introverted among us.
Loneliness and social isolation can have a significant effect on mood and can lead to depression and anxiety. When the condition is more long-term, as is happening now, isolation can lead to more severe health problems, such as memory issues and increased risk of heart attack.
Luckily, there are some fun and easy ways that seniors can help combat feelings of loneliness (while also staying healthy and safe). Here are a few suggestions:
Joining your neighbor for a cup of joe isn’t currently an option, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t check in on the people that live nearby. Consider swapping home cooked meals or treats and leaving them on each other’s doorsteps. Or try swapping books and movies in the same manner, and having a weekly phone call to share your thoughts.
Write a Note
Old-fashioned letter writing has fallen out of favor since email and texting have become mainstream. But there’s something to be said for snail mail. These days, when mailboxes are filled with bills and junk, it’s a rare treat to find a note from a friend. Letters don’t have to be lengthy, perhaps just a note to say “hi” or to give an update on your family.
Hit the Streets
Sick of sitting at home? Social distancing doesn’t mean you can’t get out of the house, and parks and trails are open in most communities. As long as you maintain a distance of at least six feet and wear a mask, you can enjoy a walk or bicycle ride with a friend.
Pick up the Phone
Nothing can replace face-to-face socializing, but a phone or video call are still great options. Call a friend, family member, or someone you haven’t talked to in ages and catch up. Talk about how you’ve been coping with staying at home, what you’ve been cooking, or favorite television shows to help make it through quarantine. Trust us – everyone wants to hear a friendly voice these days!
Virtual Group Activities
Video chats aren’t JUST for chatting. Many activities can be adapted for the virtual realm, including parties, card games, or a simple meal together. Some groups are even offering larger group activities, such as exercise classes or bingo nights, online. Check out Senior Planet, and organization that offers courses, classes, and other programs for older adults online.
A Note on In-Person Visits
While it’s not advisable, many people are choosing to meet with family and friends in real life. If you find yourself in this boat, there are some steps you can take to remain as safe as possible:
- Delay or cancel your visit if you or your loved one have had symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to the virus within the last 14 days
- Remember that the more people you interact with, the higher your risk of contracting the virus. Try to keep gatherings as mall as possible
- Visit with friends outdoors as whenever possible, or sit in a very well-ventilated room
- Arrange seating to allow for social distancing (at least six feet apart)
- Don’t shake hands, kiss, or hug
- Wear a face mask and ask those around you to do the same
- Wash hands often and limit contact with frequently touched surfaces
Social isolation doesn’t have to end in loneliness. There are many fun and creative ways you can use to stay in touch with those you love. Tell us: How have you been maintaining relationships in the wake of COVID-19?