By Nori Patnode, Certified Concierge Care Advisor
Although we are well aware that isolation for seniors is detrimental and can negatively impact physical and mental health, the current situation due to Coronavirus has left many of us feeling helpless while our parents, friends, or loved ones have to isolate in order to remain safe. Here are some ways to get creative and help seniors who find themselves alone during this time.
We may not be able to physically visit with our loved ones, but we can drop off things for them to do, and encourage them via telephone to take on some new projects or hobbies to keep them occupied for part of the day. Take some time to consider what your parent’s interests were when they were younger or what their current interests are. This may be a conversation starter when you call your loved one, and you may learn something significant you did not know about them. Once you know their interests, you can drop off a box of items to get them started on a new creative path. At the very least, it will bring some fun to their day and give them something to think about.
Does your loved one like to read? Some of our parents are technology savvy and likely others are not. The King County Library is currently investing in eBooks and audiobooks. In response to COVID-19 they added $350,000 to what was already being budgeted for digital materials. You can stream movies with your library card using Kanopy. Your library card gives you access to fitness and movement classes via hoopla health and fitness. If you need help with your library account, you can call 1-800-462-9600 in Washington State. An instant eCard is available online.
If your loved one is not internet savvy, there is a Mobile Library available as well. In the King County area, the phone number to call to access this program is 425-369-3235. Someone in the family could also drop of books or audiobooks to their parents. If they are in an Assisted Living Facility or Adult Family Home, it is still possible to drop items at the front desk or with the caregivers. If your parent lives independently, then sanitize the items, and drop them off on their front-door step.
Encourage the senior you love to play music. The stress over what is going on is intense and music is a great way to forget what is happening for a moment. Music always brings back memories and allows us to get lost in our thoughts or just empty our thoughts and enjoy the rhythm. Personally, we have purchased a record player and have been really enjoying listening to old vinyl records; it’s been amazing!
Another fun way to pass time might be to organize your pictures. This project will encourage reminiscing and could either be a small project of just organizing and adding pictures to albums or it could morph into a full-blown love of scrapbooking.
Drop off some items that encourage new hobbies. If you know your Mother used to knit, or always wanted to, but just never had the chance, then drop off an All in One knitting kit. You can easily order the kits online. They can color a picture using adult style coloring books and gel pens or colored pencils. Making jewelry is also fun and there are instructional books out there to be purchased online as well as the materials needed to make jewelry.
What about the lost art of sitting down and writing a letter? If the senior in your life is not computer savvy, and if they are able, they can certainly sit down with some beautiful stationary and put words to paper. Ask them to write about a specific memory or time in their life and send it to you and/or others in the family. What a great gift that would be! Start a diary or test your skills at writing poetry. Simply write what you are grateful for. Make a list of ten wonderful things about yourself or others. Keep it positive.
Life is stressful right now. Take a little time to sit quietly and relax. Get comfortable, dim the lights, play soft music or use a sound machine that has sounds such as the ocean or the rain. Bring lovely scents into the room with flowers or aromatherapy. Have a spa day at home.
Netflix has started a virtual hang out where you can watch movies with friends through a Google Chrome extension called Netflix Party. This does not work on regular TV. Users must use the internet browser Google Chrome to watch movies at the same time. They can install the extension on their computer and use that to share a link with friends. Both parties will need the extension installed to participate. The extension comes with a chat room so you can talk during the movie.
Stay socially connected during these uncertain times. It will be more difficult, but it is important for mental health.
Help the senior in your life by using some of these tips or by coming up with something creative on your own. Call your loved one daily and if they are able, Face Time with them. Hopefully you have not suffered a great loss during this time. I am very sorry if you have been through or are going through a difficult time. Please remember you are loved and “this too shall pass”.