As coronavirus spreads and we continue to be socially distant, it’s safe to say we’re all feeling isolated from one another. Infection rates don’t seem to discriminate with age, but the risk definitely does. Especially with the elderly.
With this kind of risk, the elderly are often forced into isolation and at times are placed outside of a normal living environments. Not being able to socialize regularly is malnutrition for the mind. In fact, researchers at Florida State observed,
-The Journals of Gerontology: Series B, online 2018
Isolation affects both mental and physical well-being. Assisted living facilities are doing everything they can while hospice care continues to provide the essential resources as the medical community scrambles to make room in hospitals and clinics. While hospice care provides physical support such as pain management, so much of what we do for our patients and our patient’s families concerns emotional and spiritual well-being.
Medical care is at the forefront of everyone’s mind, but maybe what the elderly need most right now is emotional support and human connection. The ear of a person who is willing to listen to stories of the past. The smile that a nurse can provide during a morning walk routine. Or maybe with technology there’s a way that you and your children can make an impact today! Let’s explore.
How to Help Elderly who are Isolated
Facing isolation is something that hospice patients are no stranger to. The setting doesn't always support the notion of full inclusion, given the variety of care requirements that crossover from patient to patient. There are a few areas where we can do our piece to ensure that isolation doesn't take a greater toll than it has to.
No School! Kids Can Read Virtually to The Elderly
Hospice workers have noted the benefits of reading to their patients. With children out of school, this represents a great opportunity for both young and old minds alike. With a multitude of free services like FaceTime, Skype or Facebook Messenger so readily available it’s easier than ever to create moments like these virtually. We all know someone elderly who’s isolating. Have your kids pick up a book and a phone! Both will get something out of this.
Write a Digital Letter
Don’t be afraid to reach out to your local care providers. They’re always looking for inventive resources to support their residents, patients, etc. Sometimes just an old-fashioned letter is what the elderly will appreciate most. Luckily, we live in a digital world. One of the few spaces COVID-19 can’t spread…
Often times, care providers are happy to distribute electronic letters throughout homes and facilities. You or your child can write the letter. Pretend you’re sending a text or email to a friend. Tell a story, maybe how you’re dealing with the coronavirus. Children are a great resource for this type of connection with the elderly. While most are enjoying a break from school, many are also confronted feelings of isolation as they too are stripped from their personal social community.
Create Lasting Relationships
Personal communication like this gives the elderly a lens into the outside world. Finding connection through the written words of another keeps spirits high and reading keeps the mind sharp. Perspective plays such an important role in the ongoing support for hospice and assisted living patients. Especially as COVID-19 continues to push us all further and further into isolation. So, pick up a digital pen! You’ll benefit from the connection as well.
Sidewalks, Chalk and Love
Support doesn’t just have to be completely digital! As the elderly stay isolated, they need to get out from time to time. Walking is great for us all, but is prescribed to the elderly by almost every medical professional. You may have already noticed the additional pedestrian traffic in neighborhoods with increased quarantines. Many of the elderly who are feeling cut off from the world are right in your neighborhood! If the 6 foot rule is followed this is wonderful thing! Pick up some chalk and take your kids out to create sidewalk art specifically for the elderly. Imagine if whole communities and neighborhoods adopted this trend.
Online Virtual Communities
Software companies have come together to release their content at a lower cost or possibly for free, allowing users to spend time surfing applications, websites, and other content. In terms of servicing our hospice patients, interactive activities work great. Entering virtual chat rooms can be a great resource for the elderly to connect with each other remotely. This allows users to interact with others and communicate with someone that understands their perspective.
Due to social distancing, many have taken to online streaming services that allow users to connect through new streams, movie chats, and other interactive measures to piece together during social distancing. This is a great opportunity for patients to explore their interests with others who share similar passions. The many different resources spread across the internet can serve as an example for what positivity can come from such a time in our lives.
Lighten Home Health and Hospice Serves as an Example
The Lighten Home Health and Hospice team utilizes these resources and many more while working within their provider system to introduce our patients to as many different and stimulating options during this time of need. Our staff is heavily diversified, each piece serves a purpose that betters every moment of the patient that is enrolled with their hospice team.
Nurses, physicians, chaplains, occupational therapists, wellness coaches, and general volunteers all play their role at Lighten Home Health and Hospice. Each team member wears their respective hat but isn't afraid to branch into terms of providing happiness and assistance whenever it is needed. Our team creates the perfect model of balance for improving the lives of our older generation’s population during this time of isolation. CHOOSE to Reach out and make the change! One moment at a time.