Staying Connected with Seniors
As COVOD-19 invades our personal space, the best way for older Americans and others with underlying health conditions to stay safe and protect themselves is to stay home. Yet, after weeks of sheltering at home, social isolation also can become almost overwhelming and cause feelings of isolation, anxiety and loneliness. What can be done to help this most vulnerable population adjust to the new norm?
During these uncertain times, many older adults may need assistance from family, friends and neighbors to check in on them, help provide basic necessities such as groceries and medications, and lend a voice to those craving to hear from others and break the feeling of isolation.
“It’s on all of us to check in on the older adults in our lives – our friends, family and neighbors – to help them during this outbreak,” California Governor Gavin Newsom has said. “No older citizens should be forced to go outside to get groceries, medications or other essential items. Each and every one of us must reach out in a safe way.”
Here’s a check list drawn from the DailyCaring website on ways to stay connected with seniors during the coronavirus scare:
• Check in with a call, text or physically-distanced door knock to make sure older adults are doing ok and safely provide essential items as necessary.
• Establish a regular contact schedule. To reassure older adults you’ll be there for them, consider setting up a schedule for when you’ll contact them and stick to it, which helps them feel more secure and connected during uncertain times.
• Talk on the telephone. Older adults already know how to use their phones versus texting or video calls and feel comfortable talking on the phone.
• Video calls, if possible. If the older adult is able to use a computer or smartphone, consider doing video calls which provide extra comfort and reassurance in being able to see someone and to lessen the sense of isolation. You can also better assess the senior’s level of health and wellbeing.
• Drop off or mail letters or care packages. Put together a bag of basic supplies, favorite snacks or comfort items and drop them off or mail them. Include special photos or a handwritten letter to remind seniors they’re loved and missed.
• Encourage family and friends to send letters, cards and photos as well. Studies suggest the virus only survives for a few hours on packages and cardboard so it’s less likely mail would carry the virus. Everyone loves mail, especially when they’re feeling disconnected or isolated. Receiving mail can brighten one’s day and they may be able to display items such as cards and photos in their room as a reminder they’re loved and missed.