Staying Connected Helps Keep Your Loved One’s Spirits High And Hopes Alive Despite Isolation During A Pandemic
During a pandemic, everyone is advised to stay home and minimize contact with others. Pegasus home care professionals in Canyon Country and elsewhere know that the recommendations have left many people lonely and depressed. In this article, they offer tips for keeping spirits high and hopes alive for elderly loved ones.
Eliminating social activities has led to what experts call the COVID-19 Connectivity Paradox. Individuals, especially seniors, are supposed to stay isolated to prevent infection. However, isolation is harmful to their mental and physical health.
Social Interactions Are Essential For Good Health
Experts have long known that social interactions have a positive impact on health. Isolation, in many instances, is detrimental to well being. It’s considered as harmful as hypertension, lack of exercise, obesity, and smoking.
Although their physical abilities may have declined as the years passed, many seniors maintained some social activities. They stayed connected with others, usually through personal contact. Many also engaged in activities, such as dancing, that helped keep them physically fit.
COVID significantly impacted the elderly, especially when it first appeared. Seniors were more susceptible to infection and often had more severe symptoms. They often experienced a long and difficult recovery.
The pandemic restrictions such as “shelter-in-place” and maintaining physical distancing are meant to protect individuals from contagion. The loneliness and depression resulting from isolation have led to a significant decline in senior health. They are at higher risk for:
- Heart disease
- Premature death
Pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes, may be worsened when individuals are depressed.
Staying Connected Can Reduce Loneliness
Social isolation is essentially not being around other people. It’s different from loneliness, which is suffering caused by feeling disconnected from others. Isolation can, but not always, lead to loneliness.
You may not be able to spend one-on-one time with your senior loved one during a pandemic. But you can create a sense of connection. Anything you do to relieve their loneliness will have a positive effect on their health.
Technology is a convenient and safe way to alleviate isolation for many. Staying connected is far easier if your loved one already knows how to use online resources. If not, consider ordering a device designed for seniors and teaching them the basics over the phone.
Seeing each other and hearing each other’s voices works wonders. You don’t have to be professional to use your phone to make a video. You can make it as simple as describing your day and sending it to their phone.
Connect With Cards, Letters, And Little Gifts
When physical touch isn’t possible, rely on words to convey your feelings. Send your isolated senior cards and letters frequently. Send some to nursing homes and care centers while you’re at it.
If you have children, involve them. They can write notes, draw pictures, or whatever fits their relationship with the senior. Reaching out with a few cheery words keeps everyone’s spirits high.
You can also send crossword or word search puzzles. If your loved one likes to read, take out a subscription to Book-Of-The-Month or a similar club. Or arrange to obtain books and magazines from your library.
Check out sources like National Day to find dozens of fun “holidays” to commemorate each month. It’s an opportunity to send joke gifts or cards. Shared humor brings laughter and connection.
Little gifts let your senior know you’re thinking of them, especially if the gift fits their particular interests. You don’t have to purchase something fancy or expensive. An item that reminds a person of a fun time you had together will generate good feelings.
The best presents, of course, are handmade. But the internet allows you to shop the world to find the perfect item. Remember that what you are giving them is a loving connection to you.
You may be concerned about exposing your loved one to COVID by having packages delivered. The CDC says that coronavirus spreads primarily via droplets in the air. However, it can contaminate surfaces on occasion.
Arrange to have everything delivered to you if possible, so that you can disinfect it. If you live nearby, you can then leave packages on your loved one’s doorstep. Otherwise, forward packages and instruct your senior to wash their hands.
Talk To Your Loved One About How They’re Doing
Despite your best efforts to keep your senior’s spirits high and hopes alive, their health may start to decline. Monitor any changes as best you can, generally by asking questions. Signs of depression can include:
- Changes in weight due to not eating or eating junk food
- Inattention to financial matters
- Insomnia or sleeping excessively
- Loss of interest in things they cared about
- Neglecting personal hygiene
- Skipping their medications or taking them erratically
You may need to make arrangements for them to consult with their healthcare provider.
Pegasus is a licensed Home Care Organization and a Joint Commission Accredited Home Health Care organization. Our home care services in Canyon Country and our other locations include companionship for shut-ins. The customized care provided by our professionals will help keep you and your loved one safe at home.