The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has turned life as we know it upside down, with lockdowns and social distancing becoming our bleak reality.
The crisis has hit older people particularly hard because they’re among the most vulnerable demographics, while social distancing affects their social lives. All this can be overwhelming and lead to a number of mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, or the feeling of hopelessness and isolation.
Given that interactions with others are essential for human beings, finding a way to maintain regular activities and fight loneliness should be a top priority for those who look after their elderly relatives.
1. Taking a Virtual Trip
Thanks to the latest technologies, travelling from the safety of one’s home is now an option.
For older people, this could be a great opportunity to take a trip down memory lane and revisit their hometown or the place where they spent their honeymoon. Google Earth and Google Street View make all this possible.
It’s also a good idea to do this while browsing through old photos and compare how these locations have changed over time.
Also, this is a great way to explore new destinations and “see” Hawaii, the Eiffel Tower, or the Great Wall of China without risking one’s health.
2. Discovering Arts and Crafts
Creative activities can significantly contribute to the mental and overall wellbeing of older adults, which is why taking up arts and crafts is a great idea.
These include knitting, colouring, painting, sewing, or scrapbooking. Besides being entertaining, such activities are beneficial because they improve fine motor skills.
In other words, by practicing crafts that
- require hand-eye movement coordination, as well as skillful manipulation of tools such as scissors or a paintbrush,
- promote bilateral integration,
- and improve movement control,
older people will keep their motor skills sharp. As a result, it will be much easier for them to perform some practical routine activities such as taking a bath, getting dressed, and eating.
Finally, all the time, patience, and effort they put into creating a finished product will be a rewarding experience.
Physical activities are equally important as they allow the elderly to maintain their fitness and stay healthy and mobile for longer.
Although older people (and not only them) are advised to stay at home during this health crisis, it mainly refers to going shopping and spending time in crowded places.
On the other hand, being confined to one’s home for a long period can make even younger people feel claustrophobic and depressed, let alone older adults, especially those who don’t have close relatives.
Besides some makeshift exercises such as climbing the stairs, stretching, or yoga, seniors should also spend time in nature, taking walks or simply enjoying the fresh air and sun.
Those who are in better shape can even give the pilgrim routes of Ireland a try – they will be social distancing and avoiding crowds but without the need to stay indoors.
4. Watching Movies
With Netflix and other streaming platforms, it’s very easy to organize a movie night for your older loved ones.
Find out what their favorite classics are, and surprise them. This way, watching movies won’t only be an entertaining activity but also the one that will bring back memories from their youth.
Flooded by the feeling of nostalgia, your aging parents or relatives will be provoked to start talking about their life and reminisce about good old times.
And despite its bitter-sweet taste, nostalgia is good for their emotional wellbeing. It allows older people to remember who they used to be and help them reconnect with their true selves, which is crucial to achieving a greater sense of meaning.
5. Playing Board Games
Board games are great for socializing and entertainment.
If they’re in social isolation, older people can still enjoy the benefits of board games through different online communities and platforms. Games such as Bingo, Checkers, Scrabbles, and Dominoes are available online so that your elderly loved ones can have some fun even if they can’t play their favourite games with their friends in real life.
Doing puzzles is another great way to spend time during social distancing. Apart from exercising patience and spending quality time, this activity is also excellent because it reinforces the existing connections in the brain and improves short-term memory – just what seniors need.
Reading is a highly beneficial activity as it helps reduce stress and provides mental stimulation, both of which are crucial for older people.
Besides, since the current pandemic can be upsetting for people who have a higher risk of contracting coronavirus, it’s essential to find something that will keep their mind off the worst-case scenario. Reading has the power to distract people from the present and allow them to immerse themselves in another reality.
These six activities can help older people who are social distancing to go through this rough patch more easily and smoothly.
I’m Rebecca, a translator and avid traveller, a book worm and horror flick enthusiast. My job has given me the amazing opportunity to travel to dozens of countries around the world, and writing on Rough Draft gives me a chance to try to showcase some of them.
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