With the news reports of outbreaks in a few nursing homes around the U.S., some local health officials have suggested that families consider moving their senior loved ones home from assisted living and memory care communities during the COVID-19 crisis. You may be wondering: what’s your best plan of action? Do you need to bring your loved one home?
The global coronavirus pandemic has pushed most of us into our homes, making connecting with others a bit more difficult than it was just a few months ago. For older adults who are living at home, this time can feel especially isolating. Fortunately, technology offers plenty of ways to combat loneliness. You just have to know where to look and what to download.
Dangers of Isolation and Loneliness
Right now, the safest thing for all of us to do is to practice social distancing. Some states are also encouraging residents to shelter in place, leaving their homes only for exercise and essential travel. However, even though it is the safest thing to do, isolation can get lonely awfully fast.
Older adults are especially vulnerable to the dangers of social isolation, even before the COVID-19 pandemic arrived. Research from the National Institute on Aging has demonstrated that socially isolated seniors are at a higher risk for conditions like anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
The good news? Though you may be at home alone or with a partner, you don’t have to be socially isolated. You can continue to connect with your friends and loved ones via phone calls, text messages, video chats, and online games. Here are a few of our favorite online games you can use to play with friends, family, and strangers that will keep your mind sharp.
According to the World Health Organization, there are approximately 10 million new diagnoses of dementia annually. This is a staggering statistic, but nothing is quite as overwhelming as when your loved one becomes one of those 10 million. When your loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia, you suddenly find yourself making many decisions about their current and future care.
As you tune in to the latest updates on COVID-19, you’ll learn that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has encouraged that we practice social distancing. It is one of several recommendations to help slow the spread of the outbreak. But what exactly is social distancing and why is it important for seniors?
Most senior living communities, including those operated by The Arbor Company, are prohibiting any visitors during the COVID-19 crisis. Older adults are at higher risk for serious illness and even death, particularly those with underlying health problems such as heart disease, diabetes or compromised immune systems.
So how can you stay in touch with your loved one during this time? You can always call on the phone or write a note to say hello, of course. But with creative uses of technology, you can find ways to ‘reach out and touch’ your loved one without physical contact that might put his or her health at risk. Here are a few ideas:
Mary Campbell Jenkins, Arbor’s executive vice president, was recently featured on Connect-Today.com, a webcast aimed at providing education and encouragement during the COVID-19 pandemic. Host Natosha Reid Rice asked Mary Campbell about ways to care for seniors during this time.
When you’re stuck indoors, it’s tempting to sink into the couch and never get up. If you’re in the habit of going to the gym, walking at the mall or taking a water aerobics class, you’ll need to find a new routine and a new way to get that exercise during this period of sheltering-in-place.
Retirement doesn’t mean sitting in your rocking chair, nor that the most exciting thing in your life has to be your weekly bingo game. Now is a great time to cultivate a new hobby, or revive an old one. Gardening offers a dynamic option that’s full of surprises, challenges, and year-round change, making it the perfect choice for seniors of all skill levels. Whether you grow a small row of seeds, tend to indoor orchids and succulents, or commit to a small farm in your backyard, virtually everyone can enjoy gardening. Even if you think you have a brown thumb, here are some reasons to give green-thumb life a try.
“Being proactive” is the best way to approach any challenge in life. With the COVID-19 pandemic, proactive steps will save lives. Since doctors don’t yet have a cure, proactive preventive steps are the best available strategy.