Here are simple, fun activities that families can do to keep seniors happy and connected—without increasing their risks of getting infected with COVID-19.
The COVID-19 pandemic’s unprecedented physical, psychological, and social effects are taking a toll on everyone. For seniors who are most vulnerable to the disease, the burdens of global lockdowns and social distancing measures are becoming even more difficult to bear.
Beyond the highest risks and mortality rates, the elderly are also battling rampant loneliness and anxiety. Social isolation leads to a multitude of physical and mental repercussions and trauma. Plus, the adverse effects of the digital divide and exacerbated health disparities may make it harder for older adults to survive and thrive in the new normal.
Just because practice social distancing is strictly mandated doesn’t mean you should let social disconnection trump over. Now more than ever, it’s crucial to make time for your elders in the family and community and for seniors who need assisted living. No matter how big or small, acts of kindness go a long way towards supporting older adults and making them feel loved and cared for during a crisis.
Here are some simple things that family members can do to help seniors manage boredom and stress and keep them connected—without increasing their risks of getting infected with COVID-19.
Maintain fun, meaningful connections
There are many simple, creative, and fun ways to regularly check in on the seniors in the family. For example, why not try to cook their favorite meals and then drop them off on the front porch or leave them outside the door? Perhaps you can mail them sweet letters or cards to let them know that you always keep them in your thoughts.
You can also show your affection by running errands for them, such as buying their daily essentials and groceries as well as ensuring all their medications and supplies are complete. You can ask them to wave to you through the windows when you drop off the items outside the home. Do your best to reach out more frequently and ask your elders how they would like to stay in touch.
Now is the best time to harness the power of technology to bring families together. Teach your older loved ones how to be better at technology and show them how to video chat and use entertaining apps on their smartphone, laptop, or iPad. Get the grandchildren involved to help the seniors navigate social media or set up video conferencing tools.
Having recurring FaceTime or Zoom events with the family will surely lift the elderly’s spirits and make them feel happy and optimistic.
Let the seniors explore new habits
Encouraging older adults to take care of their mind and body can boost their immunity and overall well-being, and give them peace of mind and a sense of control.
Simple at-home exercises like stretching, walking in place or around the garden or backyard, chair squats, knee lifts, and the like will improve balance, coordination, and flexibility. Plus, practicing healthy habits like getting enough sleep and eating balanced meals will also enable seniors to build muscle strength and enjoy cardiovascular benefits.
Besides staying in tip-top shape, seniors also need to keep an active mind. Let seniors have fun while participating in mentally stimulating activities like crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, board games, card games, and even learning online games.
If the elderly in your family loves to read and write, indulge them with interesting reads and a journal to write their thoughts on. Keep them busy with worthwhile and fun activities that fuel the imagination, so they stay curious and inspired.
Provide them a sense of companionship
Lending an ear is among the most generous things you can do for seniors in this tough time of quarantine. Be someone they can rely on to listen when they want to share their feelings, especially their fears, frustrations, and anxieties.
Seniors will appreciate your presence and your willingness to let them accept and experience their feelings. Try your best to help the elderly cope with their emotions and focus on the things they can control.
Help seniors practice self-compassion
The truth is, no one knows when the COVID-19 pandemic will end. As the health crisis lingers, we need to help seniors prioritize and practice self-care, so they can effectively manage the roller coaster of emotions and stress and enhance their resilience.
Mindfulness and positive self-talk are very powerful antidotes to fear and anxiety. You can help the elderly to focus on the present moment by teaching them simple breathing exercises. You can encourage the seniors to make the days count by appreciating the simple things and everyday sights, sounds, and feelings.
At the end of the day, it’s best to let the seniors in the family feel that they are not alone and they should not be too hard on themselves in these trying times. Be generous with your time and your kind, encouraging words so that they feel the healing and comfort that they always long for.
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