COVID-19 and Social Isolation
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the new norm has been social distancing and, more recently encouraged, complete social isolation. As we well know, older adults are already a population that is vulnerable to social isolation. Prior to the virus, 60% of older adults over 75 years of age experience loneliness and social isolation. It can be expected that many of our older adults are experiencing significant increases in depression, declining physical health and wellbeing, and possibly an increase in dementia.
Here are some ways in which we can help our isolated older adults feel connected given the limitations on in-person socialization.
- Local Village Networks
Villages are local neighborhoods offering educational, emotional, social support, and much more for older adults living at home. Non-profit village networks are an excellent resource for our older adults living at home.
To find your local village, the website https://www.wavevillages.org/index.php/about-us/our-villages can help.
Facetime, Zoom conferencing, Audiobooks, etc. are just a few ways for families to socialize with loved ones. Hoopla is an application that requires a library card number to gain access to a large database of audiobooks, e-books, and even movies. During this time, it is especially important for families to be taking part in Facetime/Skype/or Zoom to socialize with their loved one at home. For fitness, many applications are free and some are offering free exercise classes and mediation classes virtually. For older adults having trouble with technology, GrandPad is an easier device to navigate. Digital Library Cards can be obtained online at https://mcpl.link/DigitalCard and can be exchanged at any MCPL branch for a full-service library card once branches reopen.
Many Psychologists and Therapists are offering group and virtual therapies for free and are opening their virtual doors to the external community. For example, The Counseling Center of Maryland is offering free video sessions through Zoom.
Now is a great time to do some spring cleaning! Take the boxes of photos lying around and put them to use! Include some artwork, memorabilia, crafts, etc., and make a scrapbook for safekeeping. Share your new scrapbook with friends and family virtually or maybe start a Zoom conference for a Scrapbooking Club! Clean out your closets of clothes that you don’t wear and bag them for charity. Marie Kondo offers a Netflix series called “Tidying Up” that helps to identify what should stay and what should go. She also has an audiobook that is worth a listen!
During this unprecedented time, it is more important that not just families, but also neighbors and volunteers, come together to help our older adults living at home. It truly takes a village!