One headline read, “Just What Older People Didn’t Need: More Isolation” in reference to stay-at-home orders, closures to visitors at many assisted living and other types of group living facilities, and “social distancing” guidelines given in response to the spread of COVID-19.
Within this pandemic is a conundrum: how to address the epidemic of loneliness in the midst of the pandemic that is so easily spread from person to person, especially amongst the eldest in populations.
A change in language may help, and just as soon as nearly everyone learned and quickly adopted this new concept and phrase, “social distancing,” the World Health Organization (WHO) sent out a message with a more literal take: physical distancing.
While people may be physically removed from visiting family, seeing clients, going to the office or school, eating out, and more, it is being encouraged that people maintain their social connections. Feelings of isolation and loneliness have been found to have physical consequences with increased risk of heart disease and dementia.
For many people, staying connected now occurs online using Zoom, FaceTime or other platforms to have virtual face-to-face conversations, send email, play games online together, and more. Not everyone has embraced modern technology—particularly many people who are over age 65—and in those instances a simple phone call or old-fashioned card or letter is recommended to maintain contact and check in.
Here are some other ideas for creating connection while being physically apart:
As these new routines are established, be sure to keep the same sense of connectivity in place when the safety measures are lifted in the future.
Caring for someone who is living with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia can be challenging, and even more so during significant changes to their structure and routines during a pandemic.
If caring for your elderly father is new to you, there might be comfort in a book or movie about the topic. Check out our list here.
Becoming a family caregiver can happen suddenly, without planning or preparation by either party. Elder care isn't intuitive for everyone so check these tips for your caregiving at home situation.