With the COVID-19 pandemic leading to shelter-in-place or stay-at-home orders in every state and many people limiting physical contact even before that, loneliness and isolation can begin to creep up for people of all ages. Even with states starting to open slowly, seniors who are at greater risk might continue to heed cautions and stay at home. Whether you're a senior in an assisted living community or an adult at home, not being able to get out and visit with loved ones and friends can be difficult.
But this is not the first time in history that people have been separated from one another in the interest of public health. During the 1918-19 Spanish flu pandemic, many people across the nation were quarantined. Schools and churches closed and many regular services and products were hard to come by or unavailable.
An article in The Atlantic shares some stories from that time taken from primary sources, such as letters and diaries. They include anecdotes about:
- A preteen girl at first excited about not having school and then growing bored and lonely without her friends
- A soldier upset that he couldn't send his loved ones a gift for Christmas due to quarantine
- Sports fans angered and saddened over the loss of their favorite past times
- People being unable — or afraid — to visit or talk to each other
Ultimately, it was a time of great loneliness and growing mistrust. But for the residents of Broadmoor Court and the nation today, that doesn't have to be the story of the current pandemic.
Today's technology makes it possible to keep in touch with each other even if we can't see each other physically. Here are several fun ways seniors at Broadmoor Court can keep up with loved ones during this time of uncertainty and social distancing.
Many younger people discount the phone as a regular means of communication today, often choosing text and social media instead. But the phone is one of the easiest ways to reach out to someone when you can't be near them. Ask loved ones to check in with you regularly via phone, especially if they are in different states and you're not able to keep up with what's going on in their communities or towns.
Consider setting up phone appointments with adult children, other loved ones and grandchildren. With kids home from school and parents trying to work from home, adult children might even be delighted for you to keep grandchildren busy for a few minutes every day.
The downside of the phone is that you can't see the other person's expression. That can be important for anyone, as communication can be 55% nonverbal. And anyone keeping up with grand kids, nieces, nephews or other young loved ones may want to see what cute antics they're up to.
If you have a computer, tablet or smartphone, you can take advantage of numerous free options for connecting face-to-face to loved ones.
- FaceTime. This app is available on all iOS (Apple) devices. You can use it if you and the other person both have an iPhone with FaceTime installed.
- Facebook Messenger. If you have a Facebook Messenger app and account, you can use it to video call someone (or receive a video call) from them. Again, the other person also needs the same app.
- Skype. You can download a free Skype app on a computer or mobile device and use it to make video or audio calls. You can also use it to chat with others via text messages.
- Zoom. This video conferencing app has become the darling of the COVID-19 pandemic because it has a free version and is easy to use. You can also invite numerous people to web conference with you, which means you can get people from many locations in the same conversation. Just make sure you enable passwords to minimize the risk of hacks.
Letters were common during the 1918-19 Spanish Flu pandemic. If you couldn't see someone in person, this was often the next best thing. Today, mailed letters aren't nearly as common, so your grandchildren or others might be excited to develop a pen pal situation during this time. Consider writing letters to your loved ones and encouraging grand kids to write back, even if it's just with a picture they drew.
Check with the assisted living community staff before trying this option to ensure that it's allowed. Then, if you have loved ones in the Colorado Springs area, invite them to come and visit you locally. They may not be able to enter the community, but they can wave at you outside the window. This might be a great option if the grand kids want to show off new outfits, tricks or just how much they've grown.
Even during a pandemic, schedules can be difficult to coordinate. If you can't arrange a phone call or video chat daily, consider sending recorded messages or pictures — and asking for them in return. Ask grandchildren if they'll text you a couple of pictures and messages about what's going on with them each week so you can keep up with them through the COVID-19 pandemic. Who knows — maybe you're starting a fun tradition that will last for years as you communicate after the pandemic is over.
Posted on Thu, May 21, 2020
by Shawn Deane