With more than half a year being passed since the pandemic hit the US and the world at large, things are now finally getting better. However, this does not mean that the virus has been eliminated or that we can go back to the ways things were before. This is especially true in the case of the elderly as they are more at risk of catching the virus than their younger counterparts.
Loneliness in Seniors
We understand the risks of coming in close contact with others, especially for seniors, nowadays. However, it is also necessary to acknowledge and find out ways of reducing loneliness in the elderly. They are already at an age where they want someone to talk with, someone who can be with them and take care of them.
However, isolation and being away from the family can make them feel worse. Under such circumstances, we need to come up with different ways to cheer them up so that their loneliness does not lead to depression.
Loneliness Causing Diseases
Before taking a look at how to help seniors cope with loneliness, it is significant to discuss the diseases that can occur if they continue to feel depressed. You may not even notice their vulnerability if you don’t keep a regular check on them, so the first step is to ensure that you’re checking on them often.
According to a CDC (Center for Disease Control) report, loneliness and isolation can lead to or increase the risk of certain medical conditions. These conditions may include:
- Isolation from friends and family can increase the risk of dementia by 50% in the elderly.
- Around 30% increase in heart disease was observed in seniors due to loneliness.
- It can also increase the risk of depression and anxiety in the elderly. While the disease is common in people of all ages, a senior citizen living with depression or increased anxiety can be quite painful.
How Can You Help?
Now that you have some idea about how isolation can drastically change the lives of seniors, you should help your parents and grandparents manage loneliness during the COVID-19 crisis. Given below are some ways you can help them deal with loneliness and anxiety:
Practice Physical Not Social Distancing
While ‘social distancing’ is a term widely used during the pandemic, many confuse it with physical distancing. However, social distancing means maintaining physical distance in a social environment.
As seniors crave attention and social interactions, your aging parents and grandparents need to spend quality time with their family and friends during these tough times. Make sure to connect with them via social media or online communication tools regularly.
Online Groups and Initiatives
Find online platforms and groups that your aging parents or grandparents can be a part of. Encourage them to create or participate in a virtual community to combat loneliness. Find online games, such as crossword puzzles, solitaire, etc. for them to play. This investment of your time will help ensure they have a proper schedule rather than just laying around in bed and watch television.
Healthy Eating Habits
If your parents are healthy and can cook food, you can video call them to share recipes or learn a new recipe from them. By doing so, you will not only ensure inclusion but also promote healthy eating habits. However, if they cannot cook and have a caregiver who takes care of it, you can ask them to include healthy options in their diet. Furthermore, you can order a healthy meal or get it delivered to their place every once in a while, only if you think it is safe.
Learning Something New
As people age, they think of all the things they wish they could have done at least once, which can include learning something new. With the whole world experiencing a digital transformation, anyone can learn almost anything online. Encourage your parents to learn a new skill or something they have always wanted to learn, and then help them with the process. If they are into music, get them an instrument and provide them with online platforms for learning.
Seniors often have to interact with their doctors. While visiting the hospital for regular checkups may not be feasible, you can arrange online consultations with their doctors. By using telehealth, you will be able to keep a check on their health and make them feel comfortable at home.
Big or small, take time out to celebrate your loved one’s birthday or any special occasion. A video call can do the job. Celebrating every little occasion is important to seniors as it makes them feel alive and special. You can help replace their loneliness with happy memories by celebrating special occasions with them virtually.
Keep a Check on Them
A simple way to help seniors feel less lonely is by checking up on them. Talk to them regularly and ensure that they are eating and sleeping well. If you have hired a caregiver for them, they can give you updates on their diet and sleep routine.
Although we’re living through a pandemic, we know that life cannot come to a standstill. You might still be working from home or have resumed going into the office while following all the necessary protocols. If you do not feel safe in meeting with your senior loved ones, virtual interaction may be necessary.
If you require further assistance for home care services, give us a call at 718-461-9602 or drop an email at firstname.lastname@example.org that we can help your loved one feel safe and comfortable at home!