Protecting our senior citizens and elderly from the threat of COVID-19 has become increasingly important over the passing weeks. Many people have elderly parents, grandparents and neighbors who are part of the older demographic hit hardest by coronavirus. Though people of all ages can be infected by the virus, it is especially dangerous for senior citizens. According to the CDC, adults 65 years and older are at higher risk for coronavirus, with recent data showing 8 out of 10 deaths reported for COVID-19 in the United States occurring in adults in that age group.
Social distancing, self-isolation and even statewide stay-at-home mandates have become crucial to preventing the spread of the virus. However, that can leave many feeling concerned for their loved ones who reside in assisted living facilities or whose only social contact is out of the home, such as daycare venues and community centers. Social disconnection may put older adults at greater risk of depression and anxiety.
Those who do not have close family or friends and rely on the support of voluntary services or social care could be placed at additional risk, along with those who are already lonely, isolated or secluded.
With government guidance to remain home, have groceries and vital medications delivered, and avoid social contact with family and friends, you may be wondering what you can to ease the mental and physical health consequences.
Video Chat or FaceTime
While it’s important to limit the physical human interaction, there are still many creative ways to maintain conversation. Keeping your older friends, neighbors and family members connected to the people around them through virtual visiting (such as a video chat on Skype or a phone call through FaceTime) will help lift their spirits. There are many ways to catch up with each other without ever having to leave your home; and if you’re not able to connect screen-to-screen, even a simple phone call will make a difference.
Snail mail hasn’t lost its touch. It might be a little old-fashioned, but who doesn’t get excited when a handwritten note or letter comes in the mail? Sending a card to loved ones that may be isolated in a nursing home or retirement facility is a touching way to keep communication open. Adding a printed photo with the letter is another personal touch you could throw in.
Send a Gift or Meal
During a time when visiting restrictions and isolation may be getting them down, this is a great way to brighten their day. Mailing a gift personally or ordering online is a nice way to share a connection. Books, flowers, puzzles and even a hot meal can brighten someone’s day.
Social distancing does not have to mean social isolation. Now, more than ever, people need to find smart ways to stay connected. For senior citizens and elderly who may be secluded from visits, be creative and proactive in reaching out to them.
For the latest updates on COVID-19, visit Ochsner.org/coronavirus.