Social isolation is extremely harmful to seniors. During the COVID-19 pandemic, families and seniors were compelled to practice self isolation and social distancing. Older adults who have Alzheimer’s or dementia are especially susceptible to social-isolation and loneliness and the effects have been aggravated due to the pandemic.
Caregivers and family members who take care of a senior loved one with dementia already know how difficult it is for their elderly loved one to maintain relationships or to participate in activities. Social activities become challenging and that creates a sense of detachment not just from family members and friends but general daily activities that had once been a norm for them.
Family members and caregivers want to support their seniors and help them stay connected and engaged but the pandemic has made the routine even more difficult to manage.
Here are some ideas that can help you, the caregiver, reduce loneliness and isolation in an Alzheimer’s or dementia patient:
Indoor gardening has so many benefits. It brightens up your home by adding beauty, fragrance, and inspiration. It is also a stress-free hobby that has many advantages for seniors. If your senior loved one is experiencing limited mobility or they are at an advanced stage of dementia, help them do some indoor gardening. One of the simplest ways to start this activity is by planting some bulbs together. To make this extra special you can choose a plant or flower that they are fond of.
Cacti are lovely houseplants that do not need a lot of maintenance and they last for a long time. Planting some edible options is great too because they are easy to grow and can be used for meals too.
Indoor gardening is therapeutic, fun, and inspiring. And if your senior loved one has the right clothing and shoes, these light physical tasks won’t exhaust them. It will help give a sense of purpose to your loved one with dementia and help them enjoy the process.
COVID-19 has impacted our lives in many ways. Meeting our loved ones and interacting with them is one of them. Elderly and immunocompromised have had to suffer the most because they are more vulnerable to such diseases. Caregivers have been dealing with the challenges that came with this pandemic by trying to care for their loved one while practicing ‘safe distancing’ measures.
Video conferencing is a tried and tested method for seniors to reduce their loneliness and isolation. It is a great way to keep in touch while practicing safe distance. Thanks to the video feature, it is much more personal than a phone call. With Zoom all family members, near or far, can join in on the conversation so seniors can feel like they are surrounded by loved ones. Other video conferencing apps include Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangouts and, Portal.
Creating Handmade Cards
Creating artwork has shown great benefits for seniors. Art is not just therapeutic but very cathartic as well. There are many nursing care facilities that utilize and incorporate this activity to keep their seniors motivated, engaged, and active. Arts and crafts have been known to promote self awareness, relieve stress and improve cognitive skills. Seniors will feel a sense of empowerment when they indulge in creative activities with their caregivers.
Creating hand made cards can be an enjoyable experience for seniors with dementia and their caregivers. There are so many therapeutic tools that can be utilized, such as, acrylic paints, markers, charcoal pencils watercolor, scrap-booking, crayons, and much more!
Pets provide a sense of warmth and support to families, especially those who are very fond of them. Many long-term facilities these days allow seniors to keep their pets with them. Whether it is a cat, dog or a fish, there are numerous advantages of caring for a pet. They provide companionship, unconditional love and contribute to a positive atmosphere. If your loved one is suffering from Alzheimer’s, a pet’s presence can reduce the negative effects of dementia such as anxiety, agitation, depression, irritability, and even loneliness.
Pets can also help dementia patients be more interactive. These days when social distancing is call of the day, pets can provide a loving and fun company so that seniors do not feel isolated or lonely.
Volunteer work is generally known to be a very stimulating activity for seniors. If seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s are given small tasks to do such as organizing the room, the office, sorting through pictures or arranging books, it can help them stay active and engaged. Small volunteer tasks increase energy, improve mood, and give the seniors an opportunity to provide care for others.
There is a growing body of evidence that recognizes the benefits of volunteering for seniors. With the right training, supervision, and clear instructions, seniors with dementia can carry out tasks and help contribute to their environment. Volunteering has proven to give respite to caregivers and reduces isolation and loneliness among the elderly.
Digital photo frames are easy to use and they can display multiple pictures (and videos) without the need of a computer or printer. This is a great gift for grandparents or elderly loved ones because they can reminisce about the good times.
Another digital solution is a dementia digital diary that helps improve the life of Dementia patients by helping them with basic knowledge about the day, time, date, and reminders. There are some great apps that can be very useful such as Brainy app and The Grey Matters App which is an interactive life storybook. These digital solutions can help alleviate loneliness and isolation among dementia patients and loved ones.
Do you have other ideas that you would like to share with us? Leave a comment and let us know!