Coronavirus & Seniors: How to Keep Isolated Seniors Engaged?
Who is at higher risk of contracting the novel Coronavirus (Covid-19)?
Elderly and senior citizens are more vulnerable to this virus and some people are at higher risk of getting very sick from this illness. This includes:
- Older adults
- People who have serious chronic medical conditions like:
- Heart disease
- Lung disease
How can seniors and caregivers take everyday precautions to reduce your risk of exposure?
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Wash your hands often
- Avoid touching your face, nose & eyes
Family members, caregivers and healthcare professionals are taking extra precautions to keep their senior loved ones safe. Some of the most important reminders are:
- Practicing proper hand hygiene
- Keeping the environment clean
- Proactively checking for symptoms
- Avoid crowded places
- Maintaining a distance from others
- Limiting time in public
- Avoiding various greeting methods like shaking hands and hugging
As seniors age, their socialization efforts decrease over time due to lack of mobility, strict medicine routines, retirement and many other reasons. But it is crucial for seniors to maintain some socialization for mental health, positivity and emotional support. But during this global pandemic, social distancing is being encouraged to prevent the spread of germs.
The consequences of feeling lonely, alienated and marginalized are harmful and detrimental to a seniors physical and mental wellbeing. What can family members and caregivers do to extend their care and make sure their senior loved ones are not losing hope and keeping themselves busy with constructive things to do?
Many caregivers are worried about keeping their seniors safe, healthy and strong during this Covid-19 outbreak. How can we keep them engaged during these difficult times when they can go through moments and feelings of loneliness?
Whether your senior loved one is a nursing care facility or in home care, let’s make sure our seniors are feeling inspired despite being socially distant from their loved ones. Here are a few ideas to help them keep connected, engaged and inspired:
Help them stay connected:
Due to the spread of novel Coronavirus, social distancing has become the call of the day. Normally, it is encouraged that seniors must socialize to maintain a bond with others, but times have changed and so has the protocol. There are constant reminders circulating in newspapers, internet and television that social distancing is one of the most important practice these days. With socialization comes the risk of this virus so how can seniors balance the competing messages?
Help your senior loved ones stay connected, especially the ones who are in nursing facilities, long-term care centres or assisted living facilities. Download all the apps that they can use to call or message. Apps such as Whatsapp, Facebook messenger and Skype are easy ways to stay in touch. Using convenient phone apps will help your elderly socialize and maintain a sense of belonging. Family members can even call their senior loved ones to ask about a recipe, some advice and other family matters so some level of normalcy can be maintained in these trying times.
Reading is a great workout for the mind. Books challenge the reader mentally, they take you to a whole new world, they create opportunities for new thought processes and also help one stay mentally active. Your senior loved ones can create a small library of their favourite authors or works.
Family members can also download reading apps on their senior parents phones or iPads so they can ready easily. With just a few tips they will feel independent in navigating their way through their virtual library of books. Does your senior loved one prefer actual books? You can give them a gift card and they can buy whatever they need online and get it all delivered to their home or nursing facility.
Entertainment Streaming Options:
Give the gift of music to your loved ones. Get their favourite records, help them stream music on their device, or create a library of their favorite tunes (or the ones you think they will like). A Netflix or Amazon Prime subscription is another great idea for them to stay entertained. If your senior loved one has an iPad, all these options can be easily accessible to them. If not, this would be a great time to get them a device that will help them stay entertained and connected.
Puzzles are a great way for senior loved ones to stay motivated to complete a task or feel mentally challenged. Even though stores are closing to prevent the spread of Coronavirus, Amazon and many other stores have viable delivery options available. You can order the puzzles for your grandparents with dementia, for example. The puzzles are made with durable material and they help your elderly family member achieve a sense of accomplishment.
There are many ways to learn a new skill online these days. E-learning websites such as Skillshare, YouTube, Udemy are great for your senior loved ones who want to learn something new. Masterclass is another subscription-based option that has classes led by established names in industries such as culinary arts, literature, media, business and whole lot more. You can give your senior loved ones the option to learn from the best on mobile, desktop, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire TV.
Create and deliver a gift pack:
As a token of affection and to tell your senior loved ones that you are thinking about them, you can create a gift pack with practical items they can use:
- wheelchair blanket
- their favorite cream
- other toiletries
- a pair of socks
- handmade card
- wheelchair pouch
- face wipes
All these items are practical and have the potential to make them smile and feel positive.
Open a creative outlet for your senior during this difficult time. You can arrange to give your elderly parents or grandparents a small pack of art supplies such as good quality sketchpad, pencils, watercolor pencils, and a small paint palette with a brush. Creativity evokes a sense of hope, inspiration and positivity and each stroke will help them feel empowered.
If you feel your senior loved one has a creative side, this gift pack of art materials will get them started. And even if they have never displayed a need for such a creative outlet, you never know, this might be the time for them to create art! Indulging in creative exercises is beneficial for the elderly. Art is a great creative form of therapy for older adults with memory loss, or people experiencing mental or physical stress.
Do you have other ideas you want to share with us? Let us know and we will include them in our list.