Beyond video calls, helping seniors battle loneliness, boredom during social isolation

“I’m sure our grandkids will enjoy using our recipe books.”

by Maura Horton

There are more than 52 million Americans who are age 65 and older, and many of them are currently staying at home isolated to help reduce their exposure to coronavirus. Not being able to engage in normal activities like going to the gym, club meetings, out to eat with friends, shopping and visiting in person with family members can lead to boredom, loneliness and depression. Now that self-distancing has been recommended through the end of the month at least, it is going to take creativity to help older adults stay engaged and connected. Phone calls or family video chats are a great place to start, but even those can start to drag with everyone sitting at home and not really having anything new to discuss.

Now that everyone has been forced to slow down and has more free time at home, this is the perfect time to tackle projects that have been on the To-Do list for years but never seem to get done. For example, have grandparents and older members of the family share and create family mementos.

  • Write letters to kids or grandkids about things you’ve always wanted to say or stories you want to share.
  • Grandparents should dig out photos of their children when they were the ages of the grandkids. Show the grandkids these photos and then share stories about what their parents did when they were their age.
  • Set up virtual lessons for your kids or grandkids of things you always wanted to teach or they always wanted to learn but there was never time for – teach them how to knit or sew, give cooking lessons, share the wisdom and love of certain activities you may have.
  • Get out all your favorite family recipes and create a recipe book for your kids or grandkids.

You can also adapt activities you would normally do in person and find ways to do them virtually through video chats.

  • Play games virtually like checkers and tell your grandkids where to move the pieces.
  • Have dinner together. While you may not be able to visit a favorite restaurant or sit together at the same table right now you can get together on video chat and share a meal together virtually.

While it can be hard to be physically separated right now there are many ways that we can all still connect with each other. It just might take a little more creativity than jumping in the car or booking a reservation at the same restaurant you always meet at. Look at this time as a gift to do things you may normally never otherwise get to do together and turn challenging times into memories that will be cherished for years to come.

The Care Coach, is a voice of guidance and experience for caregivers. She was her husband’s primary caregiver during his decade long battle with early onset Parkinson’s disease. Follow Maura on social media @carecoachadvice.



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