Expert Advice: 5 Tips to Keep Seniors Connected During COVID
Many older people have been living with strict social distancing measures for months now. With few opportunities to leave the house or greet visitors, it is too easy for the elderly to fall into social isolation.
The good news is that it is still possible for older people to stay in touch with the people and communities that matter most to them. Your former experts (YEE) is a JF&CS program that works with older people, as well as their care partners and families, to improve quality of life, encourage independence, and provide a safe and supportive living environment. The YEE team has put together five tips to help seniors stay socially engaged and active.
1. Reach out – don’t wait to be called
Some older people may be reluctant to initiate a phone call or video chat, even when they would like to talk to a friend or family member. Instead of waiting for someone to call you, proactively reach out to older people around you. Try to set a fixed time each day or week to check in with a call or FaceTime. A handwritten card or letter can also be a nice surprise!
2. Be creative on Zoom
While Video conferencing zoom is great for conversation, you don’t have to sit and talk! Over the past few months, we’ve heard about some really creative uses for Zoom. Here are some of our favorite ideas:
- Grandparents can read bedtime stories to their grandchildren through Zoom. Alternatively, you can read a short story, an interesting article, or even poetry to a senior in your life.
- Bring your laptop into the kitchen and chat while you cook dinner. You can even choose the same recipe and have fun preparing a meal together.
- A number of board games and card games can be played on Zoom, including Boggle, Yahtzee, Pictionary, Chess, Bingo, Uno, and Bridge. A virtual game night can be a lot of fun!
3. Enjoy virtual online activities
There are endless possibilities for intellectual stimulation and social connection online. A few seniors we know enjoy the free nightly broadcasts of the Metropolitan Opera and the free virtual programs of Metropolitan Museum of Art. Other popular activities include playing against the computer or against competitors from around the world on Chess.com and solve the free daily crossword from the Washington Post.
Elderly people living with dementia can virtually assist memory cafes, which offer live entertainment on Zoom and the ability to chat with others in a welcoming environment. People with Parkinson’s disease can exercise with a therapeutic dance class or strengthen their voices by singing with the Clefs de Tremble Choir.
4. Try distance learning over the phone
If you know a senior who isn’t tech-savvy or doesn’t own a computer, they can still enjoy virtual activities using their phone. A number of organizations offer distance learning opportunities over the phone where participants can strike up a conversation and learn about art, history, languages, music and other interesting topics. Check this leaflet to learn more about distance learning providers.
5. Meet outside when you can
When the weather is nice, taking a short walk outside while wearing masks is a safe and healthy way to stay connected. Sitting on a porch or back patio on a sunny day is another fun way to spend a socially distant afternoon with an older friend or relative.
While these strategies can help keep social isolation at bay, we understand that these suggestions may not be feasible for everyone, especially those with limited access to technology. If you are feeling overwhelmed or worried about an elderly person in your life, please do not hesitate to contact Your former experts. Our clinicians are available for consultation and ongoing care management. Call us at 781-693-5052 or send an email to [email protected]
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