Isolation is a problem for some elderly people right now, considering the coronavirus pandemic, but that was already an issue for many seniors before COVID-19 turned the world upside-down.
Now, concerns about isolation and loneliness have been ramped up dramatically for seniors around the country.
“The only person you are now seeing is a (caretaker), and they are only coming three or four times a week for a couple of hours,” said Sandi Heintz, owner of at Right at Home, a provider of home care services for seniors. “The isolation and depression affiliated with that for seniors -- that’s why we are trying to continue to give them different ways to engage.”
To help seniors become a little more connected to the world and their families while stay-at-home orders are in effect, Heintz offered five suggestions to help brighten up someone’s day.
Write and send encouraging notes.
Sending a note, simply put, lets the seniors know you’re thinking about them.
Also for some caretakers who have had hours reduced or completely taken away because they can’t visit seniors in their homes right now due to the pandemic, notes can still be effective and positive.
“When we have care team members that haven’t had as many hours, we’ve had them write notes,” Heintz said. “They bring them to the office and then we are sending them to nursing homes and assisted living (centers). That’s been a neat thing because it’s been a way for them to give back and a way to get some extra hours in.”
Organize window walks.
Just like how people have celebrated birthdays for children by driving by homes and honking horns, walking right by a senior citizen’s window can brighten up someone’s day, or week, for that matter.
“The residents can come to the windows and see people, and also the workers,” Heintz said. “They are isolated as well, so they can see people (are) encouraging them. That’s helped a lot.”
Have Zoom or Skype calls.
This might be a harder idea to pull off than it seems, because some seniors aren’t technically savvy.
However, providing devices that can be used for Zoom or Skype and walking senior citizens through the process on how to use them can lead to some uplifting conversations.
“We’ve (given) easy instructions on how to do it,” Heintz said.
With kids home from school, talking with seniors and having them soak up all the knowledge they possess can be a way to count toward their daily homework time.
Make care packages to send.
These are more for seniors who are at home by themselves.
They can consist of crafts or art projects done by kids, or supplies that seniors might need, such as snacks, vitamins or cleaning supplies.
They can be mailed or dropped off to minimize face-to-face contact.
Do errands for them.
Whether it’s ordering food to be delivered or working with pharmacies to make sure proper medicine is being organized and administered, this is something many relatives have done for the seniors in their family.
But it’s a continual process with no relief, all for the sake of making sure seniors are OK.
“Just try (to) help them all navigate this (new) normal and not lose communication,” Heintz said.
Are there any other ideas you have? Let us know in the comments below.