We are living in an unprecedented time of stress, anxiety and questions. COVID-19 has removed us from social events, visiting family and often the daily human contact we all need.
Even before the pandemic, millions of older adults struggle with loneliness and isolation due to lack of companionship and contact. The pandemic has people working from home, in quarantine and overall avoiding contact with others. According to the CDC, loneliness can lead to significant increase in premature death from causes such as heart disease, strokes, increased rates of depression, anxiety and a 50% increased risk of dementia related illnesses and can even rival smoking and obesity.
People are generally social by nature and good social relationships can help them live longer, healthier and happier lives. So what can we do to help engage with our older adult population during this pandemic and after it’s gone?
Video chats and social media
Video chats and social media can help seniors keep in touch with loved ones, friends and neighbors. While no technology can take the place of in-person interactions, video chats like Facetime, Skype and Zoom can keep older adults social interactions going when visits are not possible.
Keep safety in mind
With less in-person contact, a senior’s safety can be a concern. There are a number of technological solutions that can help. Personal Emergency Response Systems allow the person to call for help with the simple push of a button. Families and seniors can have some peace of mind knowing a button can connect one to help.
Believe it or not but video games can help get older adults bodies and minds moving. Games on Wii or live video exercise groups can offer a fun opportunity for people to get light physical activity from the comfort of home and offer human connection.
Mental exercises can come from games like Tetris or memory and matching games. Playing trivial pursuit with an older adult on Zoom can be a fun fact recall game.
GrandPad is a tablet designed for older adults with a simplified set of apps that use large, clearly marked icons for video and voice calls, photos, email, music and daily news (GrandPad can be purchased online or in stores locally).
The Marinette County ADRC offers a free service to Marinette County residents called the In Touch Senior call. This program establishes contact via telephone to an elderly person or an adult living with a disability to provide a sense of security. Call 715-732-3850 to arrange your call.
These are just a few ideas of ways to help your older adult family member, friend or neighbor keep that human contact.
Kelly Badker is the Marinette County ADRC supervisor. She can be contacted at 715-732-3850 or KBadker@MARINETTECOUNTY.com.