For several months now, we’ve been following the advice of public health officials to stay home as much as possible to reduce our risk of contracting COVID-19. Seniors especially need to limit their exposure to others as COVID-19 could be life threatening in older populations.
However, sheltering at home has also meant that seniors are unable to see friends or family or participate in activities that kept them active and engaged. That comes with its own risks.
What are the Risks of Social Isolation in Seniors?
Even before the pandemic began, national studies indicated that nearly a quarter of older Americans were socially isolated and more than a third experienced loneliness on a regular basis.
As the days of isolation wear on, older adults are especially susceptible to depression, physical inactivity, and declining cognitive function. Without the ability to leave the house, they may be getting less exercise, which can lead to weight gain, reduced muscle mass, and declining heart and lung function.
How Can Seniors Reduce the Impact of Social Isolation?
There are things that older adults can do to stay active and engaged. If you are the adult child of a parent, you can help them put some of these habits into practice.
- Plan the day. Days might seem to blur into each other so keep up with daily routines. Get out of bed at the same time every day. Plan time for small activities throughout the day like phone calls to friends and family, cooking, gardening, small home repairs, or puzzles. Go to sleep at the same time every day too.
- Stay active. If you can, go for short walks in your neighborhood to stay active. Look for online exercise classes or videos specifically for seniors. Light yardwork is also an effective form of exercise.
- Leave home safely. Don’t be afraid to leave your home and go into public spaces as needed. For example, when in public wear a face covering and carry hand sanitizer with you. Avoid close contact with others who are not wearing face masks to the extent possible.
- Talk to friends and family. There are others who are feeling lonely as well. Reach out to friends and family to tell them how you feel. They will most likely relate. Set up regular calls with them. Determine if there’s a way you can interact in a safe way. Consider a socially distanced visit to a friend’s house where you sit in the yard for a limited period of time.
- Use technology. Technology can be a great tool during the time of COVID-19. It’s an especially good way to stay connected with young people in your life. Video calls, texting, and social media platforms offer myriad ways to connect and have conversations that are almost like being in the same room with the person you’re talking to.
- Look into online classes. Check with your local community college or university to see if there are online classes that you can audit for free. You’ll be able to enjoy a stimulating lecture on a topic that interests you and keep your mind active.
- Contact your local community center. Your town may have activities or opportunities to socialize in a safe way already set up for seniors. Give a call and see what’s available for you to participate in.
Staying Socially Connected is Vital for Seniors
It’s important that we all do our part to prevent the spread of COVID-19. But make sure the isolation isn’t causing other serious health problems. The tips above will help you stay socially and mentally active while we’re in quarantine.
Archer Law Office Can Help
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