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Expert Advice: 5 Tips for Keeping Older Adults Connected During COVID
January 20, 2021
An older man video chatting on a smartphone.

Posted by Karen Wasserman, Director of Your Elder Experts 

Expert Advice
Many older adults have been living with strict social distancing measures for months now. With few opportunities to leave home or host visitors, it’s all too easy for seniors to slide into social isolation.

The good news is that it’s still possible for older adults to stay connected with the people and communities that matter most to them. Your Elder Experts (YEE) is a JF&CS program that works with older adults, as well as their care partners and families, to enhance quality of life, encourage independence, and provide a safe and supportive living environment. The YEE team has put together five tips for helping older adults stay socially engaged and active.

1. Reach Out — Don’t Wait to Be Called

Some older adults can be hesitant to initiate a phone call or a video chat, even when they would love to talk to a friend or family member. Instead of waiting to be called, proactively reach out to the older adults in your life. Try establishing a set time each day or week to check in with a call or FaceTime. A handwritten card or letter can be a nice surprise as well!

2.Get Creative on Zoom

While Zoom video conferencing is great for conversation, you don’t have to just sit and talk! During these past several months, we have heard about some truly creative uses of Zoom. Here are a few of our favorite ideas:

  • Grandparents can read bedtime stories to their grandchildren over Zoom. Alternately, you can read a short story, an interesting article, or even some poetry to an older adult in your life.
  • Bring your laptop into the kitchen and chat while you cook dinner. You can even choose the same recipe and enjoy preparing a meal together.
  • A number of board games and card games can be played over Zoom, including Boggle, Yahtzee, Pictionary, Chess, Bingo, Uno, and Bridge. A virtual game night can be a lot of fun!

3. Enjoy Virtual Activities Online

An older man video chatting on Zoom.There are endless opportunities for intellectual stimulation and social connection online. A few older adults we know enjoy the free nightly streams from the Metropolitan Opera and the free virtual programs from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Other popular activities include playing against the computer or against competitors from around the world on Chess.com and solving the free daily crossword from The Washington Post.

Older adults living with dementia can attend virtual memory cafés, which offer live entertainment on Zoom and the chance to chat with others in a welcoming environment. Those with Parkinson’s disease can get some exercise with a Therapeutic Dance Class or strengthen their voices by singing with the Tremble Clefs Chorus.

4. Try Distance Learning by Phone

If you know an older adult who isn’t tech-savvy or doesn’t own a computer, they can still enjoy virtual activities using their phone. A number of organizations offer phone-based Distance Learning opportunities where participants can strike up a conversation and learn about art, history, languages, music, and other interesting topics. Check out this flyer to learn more about Distance Learning providers.

5. Meet Outdoors When You Can

An older woman wearing a face mask outdoors.When the weather is nice, taking a short walk outdoors while wearing masks is a healthy and safe way to stay connected. Sitting out on a front porch or a back patio on a sunny day is another pleasant way to pass a socially-distanced afternoon with an older adult friend or relative.

While these strategies can help keep social isolation at bay, we understand that these suggestions aren’t feasible for everyone — especially those with limited access to technology.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or worried about an older adult in your life, please don’t hesitate to contact Your Elder Experts. Our clinicians are available for consultation and ongoing care management. Give us a call at 781-693-5052 or email info@yourelderexperts.com.

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