Isolation can lead to physical and mental health problems for people of all ages, but senior citizens are particularly vulnerable. They may be more likely to eat too little, eat unhealthy foods, smoke and drink, ignore exercise and suffer from cognitive decline. In addition, seniors who live alone may fall victim to physical or financial abuse, including scams related to COVID-19.
Teach Seniors How to Use Technology
Tools such as video conferencing, email and social media are designed to be relatively easy to use. Many seniors feel intimidated by technology because they don’t understand how it works but are surprised by how simple it is when someone explains it to them. Getting on the phone with an older individual and explaining how to use unfamiliar technology can open up new avenues to communicate.
Keep in Touch With Elderly Relatives
If you can’t get together in person, try to speak frequently via phone or video so you can hear each other’s voices and see each other’s faces. That can brighten an older person’s day, provide much needed social interaction and mental stimulation, and give you an opportunity to find out how your relative is doing and whether there is anything they need. Email and texts are also good ways to stay in touch. Encourage other family members to check in as well.
Share Photos and Videos
Look through photo albums, both physical and online, and share images to remind each other of fun times you have spent together. Share photos and videos of things that are going on in your life now. Funny images and videos of your kids or pets can brighten an older person’s day and provide much-needed laughter.
Play Games and Watch Movies Together
You don’t have to be in the same room to enjoy playing games or watching movies as a family. Arrange to play a game virtually as a group or schedule a movie night when everyone watches the same film together, albeit in different locations. You may even want to make it a weekly event and take turns choosing a different game or movie each time.
Encourage Older Relatives to Help Your Kids
Everyone needs a sense of purpose. Ask your parents or grandparents to read to your children, help them with homework or assist them with projects. Seniors can also help with hobbies, cooking and arts and crafts, and can provide valuable advice about life. Those types of conversations can help older and younger generations build and maintain strong connections.
Help Older Neighbors
If you know that a senior citizen in your community lives alone, check in to find out how he or she is doing. Offer to explain or demonstrate how to use technology to keep in touch with loved ones and ask if there is anything else you can do to help.