Now that Florida is moving into the phases of reopening from the Covid-19 shutdown, it is still vital to remember our elderly citizens and make efforts to keep seniors engaged.
Seniors are still being urged to stay home as much as possible. Elderly seniors are the most vulnerable to becoming terminally ill after contracting the virus because of weaker immune systems and potential “co-morbidities” or underlying health conditions which pre-dispose them to complications from Coronaviurs. We must also be aware that the reopening has coincided with an uptick or spike in the number of cases statewide. It is too soon to tell if this is the second wave we were warned about or just the natural result of more people getting together in larger crowds in restaurants and at the beaches. Either way, the danger to our most vulnerable population is far from over. Furthermore, as seniors continue to stay at home for their safety, the rest of the state is gearing up to enter into more normal conditions, which may leave older people feeling neglected and isolated.
Keeping seniors engaged during these trying times is vitally important: here are some independent activities to consider giving a try:
Whether an elder lives alone or with the company of family, plenty of games exist that can cure the sadness they may be experiencing during the lockdown. Virtual games played on a phone, tablet, or computer allow them to connect with people close to them or across the globe. Smart speakers or smart displays, such as Google Home or Amazon’s Alexa can help keep seniors entertained by telling jokes and interacting with seniors in games, quizzes and virtual adventures. Games help keep seniors engaged.
Finding an interesting hobby is another considerable pastime for seniors. Whether it is something they picked up as a kid or a brand new interest, it could prove to keep older people occupied and distracted from their isolation. AARP suggests filling a hobby box for your elderly loved one with existing hobbies or something new for them to try. Some suggestions would be knitting, sewing, stamp-collecting, crafting and model-building.
For some seniors, it is a challenge to maneuver around even in the comfort of their own homes. Fortunately, exercises and stretches can be done while sitting down too. This put less strain on their bodies, but still allows them to remain active while in quarantine. Elders can decide which muscle groups they work out by selecting certain exercises to target that area.
Reading has been known to reduce stress, enhance sleep, and open up the imaginations of older adults. Reading a paperback may not be an option for seniors with impaired vision or limited mobile ability. Audio books make reading accessible to everyone from the comfort of their homes. Also more large print books are available than ever before through services such as Amazon. Collier County Public Library has admirable selections of both audio books and large print books available for loan. (CCPL is phasing back open library locations, with fewer open hours. Check their website before driving there to make sure!) You probably know if your elderly loved one had a favorite genre such as romance, mystery or westerns that they used to enjoy reading. Try to re-kindle that interest and keep seniors engaged by bringing them some appropriate reading materials!
Watching a movie can also lower stress levels and provide maximum relaxation and entertainment. Films from different decades can provoke nostalgia in seniors which may recover old memories fro their past. This can stimulate meaningful conversations about their life. (You might even learn new details that you never know about them!)
Indoor Gardening to keep seniors engaged
Caring for a garden is a great way to keep seniors active and engaged. It can also provide a number of health benefits, including helping with mobile dexterity, alleviating anxiety, and improving mood. Outdoor gardening is great during the cooler months, but tending to an indoor garden might be safer as we move into the summer months!
Naples Senior Center
Many of our senior residents used to enjoy going to weekly classes or activities at the Naples Senior Center. Although they remain closed due to Covid restrictions, they do have Zoom classes available. Check their website to see if you can help your senior sign up for something that interests them in order to keep seniors engaged.