Remaining socially connected to loved ones is important for people of all ages, but it is critically important for the well-being of seniors. Staying socially connected has a protective effect against all kinds of physical and mental health problems. Loneliness correlates with increased risk of heart disease, accelerated cognitive decline, depression, decreased immune response, inflammation, increases in stress and atypical hormone levels, and disruptions in sleep patterns. By the numbers, social isolation is as dangerous as smoking or obesity, especially for seniors.
For seniors and people with disabilities who might have trouble staying connected with loved ones on their own, in-home caregiving services can be a big help. Besides being a valuable source of social interaction themselves, in-home caregivers might be a senior’s only connection to the outside world. Caregivers can help seniors maintain social connection by scheduling social time with friends and family, setting up social media accounts, and installing video conferencing applications like Skype or Zoom. These are just some of the ways caregivers help seniors in their care remain socially connected to their loved ones.
Ways to Socially Connect while Social Distancing
During emergencies such as pandemics, regular ways to connect with friends and family may not be available. This puts seniors at a huge risk for increased loneliness, isolation, and depression. In-home caregivers can help mitigate this risk by incorporating new ideas for social connection into their routines and care plans. Below are a few ideas that create social connection and provide benefits for health and well-being.
Write a letter. It’s the perfect time to revive the age-old pastime of letter writing. From boosting cognitive abilities to staying in touch with loved ones, the benefits of letter writing for seniors are plenty. Letters provide something tangible and tactile to hold onto as keepsakes. Letter writing is a way to help someone feel valued and to feel valued yourself in return. Staying in touch with loved ones in this way can help seniors feel more connected to their friends and family members, reducing loneliness.If a senior does not have the capabilities to write or read a letter, a home caregiver can assist by writing or reading the letter for them. Home caregivers can assist in other ways, as well, such as purchasing the stamps and depositing the letters in a mailbox.
Join a book club. There are many ways to join a book club online. The group will pick a book to read and will meet virtually via video conferencing to discuss the book. Book clubs tend to meet monthly and are a great way for seniors to meet new friends. They can also join a book club or even start their own with friends or family. Home caregivers can help seniors sign up and navigate the details. If a senior has vision impairments or is not able to read, a home caregiver can read the book to the senior and can participate in the book club with them.
Craft for a good cause. Sewing masks for essential workers has been one of the activities keeping people busy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Crafting something for a collective cause helps people feel useful and connected to their community. There are many charities that accept crafted items, such as knitted scarves and crocheted blankets. Crafting also comes with added health benefits, such as improved cognitive abilities, reduced depression, lower blood pressure, and a strengthened immune system. Since health conditions such as arthritis can impair a senior’s ability to make crafts, the assistance of a home caregiver can be helpful.
Make a phone call. Human beings have a need to communicate and an instinct to talk. Having a conversation over the phone is the most simple and easy way to talk with loved ones during social distancing. Hearing someone’s voice can be very reassuring for people and especially for seniors who are struggling with loneliness. Home caregivers can be of assistance by arranging phone calls and organizing schedules.
Have a video chat. Video conferencing applications like Skype, Zoom, and FaceTime provide all the functionality of a phone call, with the added benefit of being able to see the other person. It's the next best thing to having a face-to-face chat. For seniors with family living far away, video calls can be a wonderful way to stay connected with grandchildren as they grow up. Video calls may also be the only way for seniors to interact face-to-face with loved ones during social distancing. Navigating the technical aspects of video conferencing can be tricky, so home caregivers can be available to help set everything up.
Play games online. For many people, and for seniors in particular, playing games with others is a treasured pastime, but social distancing measures, this activity is literally off the table. An alternative is to play those same games online. There are many game sites that offer all the classics — card games, Yahtzee, Scrabble, and more — and are set up so that people can play the games in real time with other people. Games can also help with dementia symptoms — memory games exercise different areas of the brain, helping seniors to be more focused and alert. In order to provide quality dementia care, the level of skill needs to be matched with the abilities of the person. Some memory-based game ideas include Go Fish, Match a Pair, and Spot the Difference.
Stay Connected with In-Home Care
Alegre Home Care is serving communities during the COVID-19 pandemic by continuing to provide quality in-home care services. Caregivers are following all universal precaution guidelines and, as always, are ensuring that their clients receive the best possible care. An in-home caregiver can help seniors continue to run errands, meet up virtually with friends, and stay connected with their community. Home caregiving services can also help seniors with limited mobility take care of household tasks. And, of course, a caregiver is a valuable source of companionship and support.
If you need in-home care services, please reach out to us at Alegre Home Care. All of our in-home caregivers are highly trained, receive full background checks, and go through continual education in order to provide quality care. We have offices in San Francisco, Oakland, Stockton, San Mateo, San Jose, Santa Rosa, San Rafael, and Modesto and serve multiple counties. Give us a call today and see how we can help!