Ways to Reduce Social Isolation & Loneliness during the Pandemic
As the pandemic continues, so does isolation and depression especially among our aging population. Seniors over 65 are one of the highest risk categories for COVID 19 which has led many aging adults to stay home and “isolate” as a safety measure.
Still, isolating to stay healthy from COVID comes at a cost in the form of isolation, depression, and loneliness. This may be even worse for those elderly individuals already struggling with mental health and isolation prior to the pandemic.
Many seniors depend on community support and resources, or to stay connected to other people. With these programs suspending services for the sake of safety during covid, the impact to older adults mental and emotional health is a real concern.
Many of our caregiving families have been worried about their aging loved one during the pandemic. Here are some helpful tips to reduce isolation and depression as the pandemic continues
- Check in often. Its a simple thing to do but it can be hard to remember when you have so much on your plate. Set a time each day you call and just check in on your senior. Recruit friends or family members to also help with regular phone calls to help your senior stay connected. This is a great way to get family living out of town involved. Be specific about a day and time so its not left in the air to happen whenever. Things that can be done “anytime” are rarely done at all so schedule it!
- Focus on routine. We cannot say enough about the importance of maintaining a routine especially after retirement. Routines help our bodies regulate days and nights, as well as giving us predictability in times of stress.
- Get outside. Some studies suggest vitamin D, which can be absorbed in your body through sunlight, is proven to fight depression and many older adults do not get adequate amounts of vitamin D.
- Encourage social interaction in safe ways. Yes, COVID is dangerous but there are still ways to mitigate your risk of infection while still getting social interaction. Try moving outside and social distancing for visits with friends, or have the weekly meetup in a park instead of someone’s home.
- Explore companion care. Companion care is a great option especially for seniors who live alone, away from family members. Contact us here to learn more about how caregivers can help decrease loneliness and isolation in seniors.
- Update the tech. This is a great time to get mom a new and easy to use device so she can easily video chat or connect with family through social media. There are great options for senior tech but here are a few of my favorite: Granpad, Kindle Fire, or Echo Show.
- Get creative. Send care packages with word searches or puzzles to help with brain stimulation. Enroll your senior is virtual music or art therapy classes. Set them up with a Storyworth subscription. (We are not affiliates but BIG fans of Storyworth!) You may have to think outside the box but there are ways to connect virtually to some of the social settings your senior loved prior to COVID.
There are lots of options available to reduce the risk of loneliness and isolation for our seniors during this never ending pandemic. If you have an idea or suggestion we would love to hear it! Leave us a comment below and share it with other family caregivers!