Social Connection during Social Distancing

Social Distancing

As we are entering the fourth week in quarantine, we are all feeling the emotional strain of social isolation. As we all stay home and take precautions to stay safe and healthy in order to support our local essential workers, it is natural to feel anxious, confused and alone. Especially for those in our community who are the most vulnerable, our elderly and immune-compromised, who must take extra precautions to stay out of public spaces. The COVID-19/Coronavirus more negatively affects those over 60, so seniors must be more careful. However, it is also our elderly who are more likely to be affected by this change in routine, such as being in housing which is disconnected from their family, whether through living independently or in a care facility under quarantine. They are also unable to communicate with their friends as they cannot go to their local community center or events as normal. Not being able to hang out with friends, host parties or visit family means that seniors are feeling more alone than ever.

Loneliness during the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

During these difficult times, it is important to value our relationships and connections with each other and support those struggling as we are all moving through this period of adjustment. bioethicist and physician Jacob Appel said that loneliness negatively impacts our mental and physical health . Therefore, the mental health of our senior citizens must be at the forefront of our minds and hearts. Lori Walsh, from CARIE (Center for Advocacy for the Rights & Interests of the Elderly) says that in order to support seniors, their loved ones should prioritize regular communication with them whether they are in a nursing home, assisted living or living independently in your neighborhood.

Routine Communication with Elderly loved ones 

As this quarantine is directly affecting your elderly loved one’s routine, it can be valuable to set up a window of time to talk daily (even for only a few minutes) to check-in and show your love for them. One way to get started is to connect with them directly or with their care workers to discuss how to best support them. To boost morale, create some home art projects with the kids and bring them to their grandparent’s home or care facility and do a show & tell through the window!

Activities to Get Started

Whether you are an elder in quarantine, or a loved one who is looking for fun and creative ways to connect, listed beyond are some activities to get you started! With all activities, make sure you are focusing bonding with your elderly loved ones.

  • Stay connected with old friends – Take a step back in time and read through your old letters and address books to reconnect with long-lost friends. As well as alumni contacts to see where your classmates ended up or search through old email addresses for coworkers who you haven’t been in touch with.
  • Video Conferencing – Use video conferencing such as Skype or facetime. You can chat with distant cousins, host a book club or read a bedtime story to your grandchild.
  • Make gifts for people and get creative – Find a project that makes your heart soar! Crafting, letter writing, start a novel, paint a picture, send thank you cards or make puppets for you grandchildren. Send them to cheer up someone you love. Share these projects using social media or video conferencing.
  • Pair & Share – Share favorite books, artists, musicians, podcasts and movies with your loved ones and friends so they have more entertainment. Use this opportunity to foster discussion with your elderly loved one on a daily basis.