Social Isolation… All of us may be starting to feel its effects amid social distancing, especially if we rely on face-to-face interaction with others as part of our own well-being.  One group that has been affected most of all is our community’s elderly population. Many seniors live on their own and rely on social gatherings to feel connected and engaged with the world around them.  So how do we go about helping isolated seniors amid social distancing to thrive when we all must keep our distance to keep each other safe? We have a few tips.

Helping Isolated Seniors Amid Social Distancing

For starters, we can recognize that seniors may experience heightened depression and anxiety during isolation and social distancing.  If you have an aging loved one who has any type of diagnosed (or even undiagnosed) mental health condition, start by making sure they take their medications or get them the help they need from a licensed medical practitioner.  Furthermore, ensure that they have the food and essentials they need, as senior citizens should try to stay away from grocery and drug stores as much as they can.  Call and ask if they need anything from the grocery or any medicines from the drug store.  Maybe even leave a little care package on their doorstep while you are at it!

Social isolation can cause individuals to feel lonely, so keeping in contact is an important way to show that their community is still present.  Some elderly folks may have trouble operating platforms such as Facebook calling, Zoom and Skype.  Now would be a great time to teach them, as video calling can help us feel even more connected during this stressful time.  However, a good old-fashioned phone call works for most people as well.  Taking the time to call an aging loved one can have you reconnecting in a way that you may not have expected!

Staying Engaged and Active Amid Social Distancing

Encourage your elderly loved ones to continue with some of their basic routines that they had in place previous to the pandemic.  If they have always tried to get a daily dose of outdoor exercise, now is a great time to continue that healthy habit.  Beautiful Riley Park or Pennsy Trail offer great places to hear the spring birds and get some daily movement. Maybe they have a friend that they call once a week, so ensure that they keep that phone date intact and encourage them to add a few more friends to the list. Take a nod from Mel Brooks, who is keeping weekly virtual Jeopardy! watching phone dates with his friends!  You can also help them to come up with some ideas to add to their routine to keep it interesting.  Maybe learning a new hobby, playing music, making art, or reading a book series are things they would like to try.

Right now, as we dive into this uncertain time together as a community, we need to make sure that our seniors feel both connected and supported.  Make sure they have the help they need, keep up basic routines, and feel like their community is still present, even if they can’t always see friends and family face-to-face.  There are many ways to help our aging Greenfield community members so that everyone gets through this difficult time.  Remember, we are in this together!

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