In a recent ‘New Yorker’ cartoon, a woman sits on the floor with piles of pictures scattered about. Her husband says, “So now you decide to go through 30 years of old photos?”
Well, in a word, yes.
For homebound seniors the struggle is real during the COVID-19 quarantine. Social distancing is making it harder for seniors to engage with family and friends.
But the combination of technology and the support of home caregivers may help reduce the isolation, loneliness and boredom that can worsen health problems in seniors.
The American Association of Retired Persons, AARP, reports that one of three people contacting its Crisis Text Line report intense feelings of loneliness and isolation. AARP call centers are receiving hundreds of thousands of calls from concerned and fearful seniors seeking help and advice.
The Michigan COVID-19 website offers free emotional support, counseling and mental health resources, and a 24/7 hotline 1-888-535-6136 to talk to a counselor.
Home caregivers, now more than ever, offer the personal touch of companionship and conversation, the necessary social interaction we all crave as humans. In addition to helping seniors with bathing, dressing and preparing daily meals, home caregivers play cards or board games and watch favorite TV shows with their clients.
Caregivers help clients with crafts, puzzles and favorite activities. When possible, they take clients outside for walks. Even 10 minutes a day of sunshine and fresh air is a mood boosting exercise good for the body and mind.
Yet while fragile seniors are now even more at risk in public settings, our caregivers are exploring more ways to safely bring the world into the homes of our clients. Cellphones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers can help connect lonely seniors with family and friends.
Video chats can take place on cell phones and tablets. Apple users can “Facetime” and Android users can use Google Duo to chat with any cell phone. Thanks Consumer Reports for the advice.
With so many people working from home, Zoom video conference calls bring co-workers together face to face.
Zoom has also become the new family-friendly chatroom on cell phones, tablets, laptop and desktop computer platforms. Families are sharing in celebrations, birthday parties, “happy hours” and regular Sunday night hangouts.
But basic needs such as shopping for food, receiving prepared meals, and getting medicines delivered are becoming even more vital now during “Stay at Home” orders.
Michigan 211, the statewide resource run by the United Way, has operators available 24 hours a day seven days a week to answer questions about issues related to COVID-19. The 211 website has links to resources for meal delivery, housing and rent issues and more.
The Kent County Community Action Network and Senior Neighbors are providing home-delivered meals.
Our home caregivers support clients by doing grocery shopping and helping to prepare their favorite and nutritious meals at home.
When the four walls seem closing in at home, television and online streaming media services are opening up new windows to the larger world outside. Check out this list compiled by Good Housekeeping Magazine detailing virtual tours of museums, galleries, and national parks available on your computer screen.
Explore the renowned art on display at The Louvre, the British Museum or the National Portrait Gallery, just to name a few.
Watch the penguin parade at The Shedd Museum or explore the world’s most famous zoos.
GRSavvySeniors offers live lectures and access to its archived library while its series is on hold.
A new online resource https://www.socialdistancingfestival.com/ is a compendium of arts, dance, music, theater and opera offering something for everyone.
National Public Radio has researched what television is doing to open access “behind the paywall” of HBO. The History Channel and PBS are opening their libraries of favorite programs.
Putting yourself on a “news diet” is just some of the advice PBS News Hour is offering help seniors stay safely connected and suggests creating a “buddy system” of friends to call each other.
Looking for something more engaging or competitive such as online games? Try “absolute Bingo” through the play.google app.
Librivox is a free public domain library of audiobooks featuring the world’s great classics.
Do you have suggestions on innovative ways you are passing the time in Quarantine? Let us know:
Check out these helpful links which explain how to access Zoom and video chat and the best way to stay informed on coronavirus updates through the Michigan Coronavirus website and Michigan 211.