The outbreak of novel coronavirus COVID-19 has impacted the lives of millions of people around the globe, including seniors and family caregivers.
To help contain the spread of the coronavirus, people around the country are self-isolating at home. Here in Chicago, our local government has ordered the closure of businesses and public spaces, and is strongly encouraging people of all ages to stay in their own homes, as much as possible. The goal is to help “flatten the curve,” minimizing the spread of the virus — and its impact on healthcare workers and first responders.
These “stay at home” orders are particularly important for older adults, who may be particularly susceptible to the worst effects of COVID-19, according to an ever-growing body of research.
For seniors, staying inside during this “new normal” of social distancing can start to lead to feelings of cabin fever. For older adults who are used to attending classes, seeing shows at local theaters, or volunteering in the community, all this extra time at home can feel stifling.
As contributor Antony Cirillo recently put it for U.S. News & World Report, it’s important to remember that “isolation” does not have to mean “idleness.”
As a loving family member to an older adult, look for ways to help the senior in your life stay active, engaged, and entertained. This can help keep their spirits up during these unpredictable times, while also helping to keep them healthy and ready for anything.
Looking for some ideas to help your senior loved one stay active, while social distancing? Here are some easy steps you can take right now. What would you add to the list?
Stay Connected Through Technology
Now is a great time to help your loved one connect with friends and family — remotely!
Find a time to regularly call your senior family and talk on the phone. If your loved one has a computer, you could also make it a point to stay in touch over email. If your senior loved one is up to it, social distancing can also be a great opportunity to help them get acquainted with video chatting (perhaps with the support and oversight of their in-home caregiver or companion). There are all sorts of services that make video calls a breeze, including Skype, Google Hangouts, FaceTime, and Zoom. You could also help your loved one set up an Echo Show or Portal, two “virtual assistant” devices that make dropping in on family seamless.
Try Virtual Volunteering
If your senior loved one has a regular commitment that has been placed on hold due to coronavirus, they may still be able to help serve their community online or over the phone. There are all sorts of ways to help out remotely — including hopping on the Institute on Aging’s “Friendship Line,” or supporting the efforts of organizations ranging from the Red Cross to the Smithsonian.
Help your loved one look for volunteer options that are meaningful to them, and see if there are ways to pitch in. Depending on the organization, seniors may be able to answer calls, sort through paperwork, coordinate volunteers, and make other meaningful contributions, all from the comfort and safety of home.
Find Indoor Exercises
As of now, people of all ages are still encouraged to go for walks and bike rides, as long as they maintain a healthy distance from others while they’re out and about. For many seniors, though, this period of isolation can be a great chance to pick up exercises and activities that they can do indoors all year round, including:
- Yoga and tai chi
- Chair exercises
- Resistance bands
- Body weight exercises
- Light dancing
There are all sorts of fitness apps and videos designed specifically for elderly audiences, including the SilverSneakers program and fun workouts from the National Institute on Aging. During quarantine, many gyms and fitness instructors are also hosting “virtual” sessions through video apps, so your loved one may still be able to take their favorite workout class, without leaving the house!
Pick Up a New Hobby — Or Rediscover an Old Favorite
There are lots of ways for seniors to stay busy and engaged while remaining at home. As a family caregiver, find ways to help out — from sending supplies for art projects, to dropping off books and movies, to calling your loved one up to listen to music or watch a film remotely.
Looking for some inspiration? There are lots of hobbies older adults can take up while social distancing, including:
- Painting or drawing
- Playing an instrument
- Knitting, quilting, crochet, and needlepoint
- Arranging flowers
Puzzles, card games, and board games are a wonderful way to pass the time, while helping people of all ages hone their memory and concentration skills. If you and your loved one are staying in together, look for fun games that you can play as a family, like chess, checkers, Monopoly, Scrabble, or your loved one’s favorite card game.
If your senior loved one is more isolated, drop off fun activities that they can enjoy solo, like jigsaw puzzles, crosswords, word searches, sudoku books, or a deck of “large print” cards for playing solitaire.
Tackle Some Household Goals
Spending time indoors can provide the opportunity to take on the tasks that have been on your senior loved one’s “to-do” list. As a family caregiver, look for opportunities to help your senior loved one to:
- Do some “spring cleaning” around the house
- Take care of yardwork and outdoor maintenance
- Get rid of clutter and tripping hazards
- Organize their storage spaces
- Sort through the pantry or fridge to get rid of expired foods
- Make “senior-friendly” updates, like installing ramps, grab bars, or new overhead lighting
- Help them organize and update their estate planning documents, as necessary
- Refresh their list of emergency contacts
Looking for Help Caring for Your Family? We’re Here for You
Have any more questions about how you can help your elderly loved ones to stay safe, healthy, and active during these uncertain times? Do you have an aging loved one who could benefit from the companionship and support of a trained professional caregiver?
Don’t hesitate to get in touch with Companions for Seniors whenever you want to discuss the best plan of action for yourself and the senior in your life. We’re always here and ready to help.
At Companions for Seniors, our mission is to help seniors live independently and with dignity in the comfort of their own home by empowering them to lead an active and enriched lifestyle, connecting them with their community, and nurturing meaningful relationships.
Our companions are trained and bonded, and can help provide a variety of services designed to help seniors remain in the comfort of their own homes, including providing assistance with housekeeping, activities of daily living (ADLs), driving services, and more. Our services are flexible, convenient, and it’s easy to get started; in most cases we can be up and running in just two days.
Our companions are responsive and responsible, and we have always placed the utmost emphasis on protecting our clients’ health and safety — including practicing proper handwashing and having back-up caregivers ready to step in, in case a companion displays any signs of an illness.
During these unpredictable days, we’re here to offer guidance and provide support, in whatever way we can. Get in touch online using our handy portal, or give us a call at 866-910-9020 today.