According to the National Institutes of Health, social isolation and loneliness in older adults is linked to a higher risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, depression, and even Alzheimer’s disease. But engaging in meaningful activities helps seniors live longer and have a sense of purpose. So how can we keep our older family members and neighbors active and engaged during COVID-19, when seniors who are at particular risk of serious complications from this virus must remain isolated for their own safety?
FCA Home Care program Director Ligia Masilamani and Case Manager Renee Cortinhas share suggestions for how to keep in touch with family and friends while looking out for warning signs during this challenging time:
1. Make more phone calls and have in-depth conversations with your older relatives and friends. Need ideas for discussion topics? Ask about their hobbies, and don’t shy away from talking about the news and their thoughts or fears.
2. Send care packages like puzzles, books, or snacks. If you are able, order groceries and have them delivered, that can help keep seniors from needing to visit crowded stores. If you live nearby, dropping off homemade soup or dinners at the door can be a welcome gift.
3. Be sure to ask if they need have any errands that need to be tended to, if their their prescriptions are filled and up to date, and if they have enough food. Many pharmacies are waiving delivery fees for medications at this time, and if you live nearby you may be able to pick up their medications and leave them at the door.
4. Use technology as much as possible – many find social media and video calls to be a nice way to experience face-to-face interactions. You can also send video clips and photos of grandchildren and other family memories.
5. Encourage seniors to take short walks or get outside if it’s safe for them to do so.
6. Make plans for the future so you both have something to look forward to.
1. Look out for signs of depression: withdrawing and not answering phone calls, expressing a more negative outlook and attitude, sleeping all the time, or not eating. If you see these signs refer them to a professional for telehealth. You can contact FCA’s Senior Outreach and Engagement Program for free assistance by calling 203-831-2900.
2. Look out for scams targeting seniors – remind your relatives not to give out money or personal information over the phone. If you suspect your loved one has been the victim of a scam, contact your local police department.
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Tags: COVID-19 | Home Care