Digital First: Home Instead offers tips to help seniors cope with isolation

Pine Belt

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WHLT) – The COVID-19 pandemic has caused stress for some, including older adults. Stress has the potential to impact long-term physical health, as well as mental stability. Home Instead Senior Care provides tips seniors and their families can use to minimize the mental effects isolation due to the pandemic can have on people of a certain age.

Home Instead recommends seniors, who are feeling overwhelmed, should take a moment to simply sit still and breathe deeply on a daily basis. This moment of silence can aid in the attempt to try and quiet negative thoughts. In addition, seniors are encouraged to make a daily list of what’s good in their life and why they’re grateful to be alive.

Home Instead says happy thoughts, in combination with a healthy diet and exercise, can go a long way to improving mood and maintaining positivity. Seniors are also encouraged to dedicate 30 minutes a day to activities like stretching, walking around the neighborhood or relaxation yoga while at home.

Other suggestions include being surrounded with positive friends and family. When physical visits with loved ones aren’t possible, consider using video chat platforms like Skype, Zoom, the phone or sending an old-fashioned letter or postcard.

Home Instead also suggests seniors limit intake of too much negative news that can contribute to high stress levels. They can consider keeping their minds engaged in other activities, including reading, writing or a favorite hobby.

For families hoping to help with keeping Seniors busy, Home Instead has these suggestions:

  1. Schedule a virtual story time or regular phone touch base. FaceTime or Skype to read a book or a collection of poems. Connect with family members as often as possible over the phone or as a group on Zoom. One family caregiver calls her father the same time each day to do a devotional and say a prayer. Send a quick text to stay connected, even if you can’t stay on the phone. Connecting with an older adult each day could give him or her something to look forward to.
  2. Encourage your loved one to keep moving. Now more than ever it’s important for older adults to stay active. Check out these exercises from the Home Instead Center for Successful Aging. They could serve the dual purpose of keeping a senior active while helping to improve balance and prevent falls. Encourage an older adult to keep moving around the home or apartment. Even better, suggest an outdoor walk, while reminding him or her to practice social distancing.
  3. Plan a drive-by greeting. Drive by a senior’s home, apartment or care community. If a senior is confined to a bed, work with staff to position him or her near a window. Hold up signs or messages from family and friends. If you don’t live in the same community as your senior, try to engage a family or church or synagogue member to arrange a greeting on your behalf to help your loved one know you’re thinking of him or her.
  4. Resurrect popular hobbies. If your loved one likes reading, drop off or mail books and magazines they might enjoy. Some older adults like to knit and crochet, work crossword puzzles and craft. Try to help older adults engage with those hobbies, whether it’s ensuring they get the supplies they need or joining in on the activity via FaceTime, Skype or Zoom. Encouraging use of technology like the senior-friendly GrandPad that offers a number of ways to keep seniors busy with games and interactions with family.
  5. Make mealtimes an activity. If seniors are still cooking for themselves, help them plan out their menus each week with their favorite healthy foods and make sure they have a way to get groceries such as through deliveries. Phone or Skype during mealtimes to help provide companionship, which can enhance appetite and the mealtime experience.
  6. Watch a show together. Highlight game shows as one particularly interactive way to engage seniors. Employing technology or even a telephone, sync up times where you can watch popular senior programs such as “Jeopardy,” “Wheel of Fortune,” “Family Feud” and “Price is Right” with them. See who can get the right answer first!
  7. Take your loved one on a trip down memory lane. Encourage a senior to get out a scrapbook and talk about the photos and memories of events they represent. Or look through your own photos you can send to a senior and discuss what memory he or she has of the photos.

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