Seniors Can Find New Ways to Connect During COVID-19

Seniors Can Find New Ways to Connect During COVID-19

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Social distancing doesn’t have to mean social isolation. Loneliness can be bad for your health. And it’s especially hard on senior citizens now.

Older adults may be feeling particularly isolated during the COVID-19 pandemic, says a Silver Sneakers survey Social distancing led to people staying home, many businesses closing, and social events being canceled. It slowed the spread of the virus, but it also cut down on daily interactions with other people.

The study found that three times more seniors say they lack companionship now. They’re not getting out as much to visit friends. They don’t see their family as often. They’re home more, limiting shopping and other errands for the sake of their health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention   says people 65 and older, and people of all ages who have serious health issues, are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

“The most obvious interruption is in our friendships. We know relationships are important, to have someone to count on, to offer stability and help us feel better,” says the survey from Silver Sneakers, a health and fitness program for adults 65 and older. It’s those relationships that make people feel included. That lowers loneliness and isolation.

Reaching Out

The time is right to make connections in new ways. Try these tips:

  • If you have a front porch, use it to visit at a safe distance with your neighbors who are out for a stroll. Or stand in your front yard or on your stoop or apartment balcony.
  • Share a meal. You can sit outside, close enough to talk to others but more than 6 feet away. Or learn how to set up an online meeting to visit at mealtime.
  • Join a group that is giving back while social distancing. Maybe you like to sew. See if someone from your church or neighborhood is working together to make cloth face coverings to donate.
  • Be the change. If you’re lonely, pen an old-fashioned letter to a friend. Drop a card to someone you haven’t seen in a while.
  • Try new technology. Video calls are one way to catch up with friends and family. Ask for help if you don’t already use this type of technology. Many people are eager to help.
  • Get outdoors. Find comfort sitting or walking in nature. Just remember, a walk in the park can put you in close contact with groups of people, too. Take along a mask you can put on if the park or walking trail is crowded.
  • Find a way to move more. Try walking in place or working out to an exercise video.
Tackling Stress

COVID-19 has caused many people to feel stressed. But there are ways to try to reduce fear and anxiety.

The CDC   suggests:

  • Take a break from following news about the pandemic.
  • Try deep breaths, stretches or meditation.
  • Eat healthy meals.
  • Work on getting plenty of sleep.
  • Find a way to exercise.
  • Do activities you enjoy.

Joining in new or favorite activity can help your health. The National Institute on Aging   says older people who are active:

  • May have lower risk for developing some health problems
  • Are happier and less depressed
  • Cope with loss better
  • May also live longer
Sources: Senior Isolation,   Silver Sneakers, 2020; People Who Are at High Risk for Severe Illness,   Center for Disease control and Prevention, 2020; Coping with Stress,   CDC, 2020; Participating in Activities You Enjoy National Institute on Aging, 2017.
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