grandma staying connected with her family

Staying Connected While Keeping Your Distance

Bethesda Health | April 3, 2020

People crave and need connections with one another. This is particularly true of older adults, who suffer the most emotionally and physically from the effects of isolation. However, seniors, particularly those with underlying health conditions, are at increased risk for more serious complications from the coronavirus (COVID-19) and the person-to-person contact that can spread it.

So how do we remain connected with senior loved ones when we must keep a physical distance between ourselves? What forms of connection, without physical contact, can we use and what should we share with each other when we connect?

Stay Connected with Senior Loved Ones

Aside from bringing your seniors emotional comfort and much-needed attention, family members must be diligent about making sure that their physical needs are being met:

Also, be prepared to provide them with credible up-to-date information about the pandemic, and steps they can take to make themselves safer. Encourage them to stay active within their home and continue their lives as normally as possible.

If a home health care agency is providing care in Mom or Dad’s home, stay in contact with these providers to monitor the situation, and ask if there is any way you can safely provide assistance. Reassure your loved ones there are resources that can be found for their needs. These include:

A wide variety of pet foods can be ordered online and delivered to the home by companies like Chewy.

Hello Fresh is a website that delivers meals selected from a variety of meal plan options.

Along with local grocers who may deliver food and supplies, Instacart delivery service brings groceries, pharmacy items and pet supplies to your loved one’s doorstep.

Grubhub lets you order meals from many area restaurants and delivers them to your home.

Most if not all pharmacy chains are offering medication pickups at their outside drive-up windows.

You can also order online for delivery of items to your seniors’ home if they find navigating the websites too difficult. Or, if you live nearby, you can deliver medications, foods, and other supplies to your senior’s doorstep.

Ways to Connect

On the phone: It’s low-tech but effective, even if it’s just a few minutes a day to let them know you care.

Mail: The kind that comes in envelopes with stamps. Your senior will probably remember when receiving a letter was exciting.

Messaging: Today’s seniors are more tech-savvy, so emailing and messaging may be a good option.

Video chat: If your senior has Facetime or Skype, this a great way to communicate. It also provides you with a video image of your senior, which may convey additional information about how they are doing.

Join a discussion group: Seniors can connect with each other. There are many online senior chat rooms from which to choose.

Contact Versus Connection

Of course, there is nothing as touching or comforting as a physical visit, but you can remain connected to people even if you are miles apart. What comes through whether on a phone line, over social media, or in an envelope is the most important message that connects us all:

We care.

For information regarding other tools to stay on top of your health, check out the Technology section of our blog.

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