It’s a well-known fact that people – especially older adults – fare better emotionally and physically when they’re engaged in socially and mentally. They’re happier, healthier, and live longer, according to research.
The trouble is that remaining active and social is hard at the best of times for a demographic that’s more likely to be dealing with chronic illness, mobility issues, and loss of a partner. The ongoing social isolation due to the pandemic only makes it worse.
Learning strategies to help older adults find joy by way of meaningful activities and social connections is more crucial than ever.
Let’s go over some tips that can help.
Maintain a daily routine
It may not sound all that exciting, but keeping a routine and some sense of predictability can provide a sense of security in these very uncertain times.
Studies show that older adults thrive when they keep to a routine. Following a routine reduces stress and anxiety, and improves sleep.
Scheduling daily phone calls or video chats with family and friends, activities, or visits from a senior care provider can provide this.
Eat a healthy diet
A healthy diet is about more than just what you eat. Being involved in the selection and preparation of foods, and sharing a meal with others is enjoyable and good for the soul.
Placing online grocery orders is helpful for those unable to get out to a store. Make a list of recipes you enjoy or want to try and create a grocery list so you can partake in the process even if family member or in-home care professional is doing the shopping and meal prep.
You can continue to enjoy good conversation over a meal safely during the pandemic by coordinating mealtimes with friends and family so you can dine together over Zoom or Facetime.
Shopping and meal prep can also be performed by a professional caregiver who also makes for wonderful mealtime company!
Tackle home projects
Is there anything more gratifying than decluttering a space or finally getting around to tackling a home project you’ve always wanted to? Cleanout a closet and set aside items to donate and/or throw out. Organize your kitchen drawers or cabinets (we ALL have a junk drawer!). What better time to do those things you’ve been putting off than when you’re home during a lockdown! Your caregiver can lend a helping hand.
Keep your mind stimulated
The old adage “use it or lose it” is good advice when it comes to our brains. You may not be able to leave the house and see others, but there are enjoyable ways to keep your mind stimulated at home. Games like chess are a great way to do this and the magic of the internet lets you do it with others while remaining safely apart.
Reading is another activity that can keep the brain sharp. Share your love of books with likeminded people by joining or even starting an online book club.
Our caregivers are a happy to engage in stimulating games and activities, too. Play cards or board games or work on a puzzle or other hobby with your caregiver.
Learn a new skill
There’s evidence that learning and participating in a new activity improves memory function and cognitive function in older adults.
Fortunately, there are hundreds of new skills you can learn or hobbies you can take up in the comfort and safety of home.
Here are just a few suggestions:
- Painting or drawing
- Writing or poetry
- A new language
- Musical instrument
- Sewing or quilting
You can find support – and supplies – online thanks to virtual workshops, classes, and groups. Your local library is also a great place to check for workshops.
Your caregiver can run errands and help with anything that you can’t order online or have delivered.
- Contribution of Routine to Sleep Quality in Community Elderly. Zisberg A, Gur-Yaish N, Shochat T. https://doi.org/10.1093/sleep/33.4.509
- The Impact of Sustained Engagement on Cognitive Function in Older Adults: The Synapse Project. Park DC, Lodi-Smith J, Drew L, et al. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797613499592
- Social participation and the health and well-being of Canadian seniors. Gilmour H. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/82-003-x/2012004/article/11720-eng.htm