The Impacts of Social Isolation on the Elderly During the Pandemic
Social isolation and loneliness can be especially challenging for seniors during the pandemic. Learn ways to help keep seniors engaged, active and safe, right in the comfort of home. For nearly everyone, the coronavirus pandemic upended the way we live. Social and religious gatherings were suspended, face-to-face meetings with friends and family strongly cautioned, even trips to the grocery store or to run errands were seen as hazards due to potential exposure.
As communities begin to take tentative steps toward resuming some of these activities, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) continues to recommend that people who are 65 years of age or older and those who have severe underlying medical conditions like diabetes or heart or lung disease continue to practice social distancing and stay home as much as possible due to a higher risk for complications from COVID-19.
For many older adults, this continued disruption to a routine that, under usual circumstances, would include in-person interaction and social outings, presents added issues: health risks due to social isolation and loneliness. While loneliness and social isolation are sometimes used interchangeably, they are, in fact, different, but related, according to research conducted by the late John T. Cacioppo, Ph.D., former director of the Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience at the University of Chicago:
Social isolation: the objective physical separation from other people (living alone).
Loneliness: the subjective distressed feeling of being alone or separated.
The health impacts of social isolation and loneliness can be quite consequential and may include:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- A weakened immune system
- Cognitive decline
- Alzheimer’s disease
To help older adults successfully cope with the continuing upheaval to “normal” life, we recommend the following to counteract social isolation and reduce loneliness:
Outdoor activities: Research has shown that interacting with older adults outdoors is safer than being in closed, indoor spaces. Take advantage of our nearly perfect year-round weather in Florida and have a social distancing dinner or happy hour in the driveway or on the back porch. Go for a walk around the block or at a nearby park. Outdoor activities with a few select individuals are a great way to maintain in-person contact while still respecting social distancing guidelines.
Electronic communication: While a phone call is always welcomed, help a senior loved one install and use a video conferencing app. This is a great way to have a face-to-face conversation, especially if your loved one lives out of the area and you won’t be able to visit in person this summer. A small family gathering could be planned, too, by inviting relatives from around the country to join in on a video chat.
Hobbies and other pastimes. If your loved one has a particular hobby that has been put on the backburner, encourage him or her to engage in it again. Maybe a loved one is knowledgeable about your family history or has a lot of old family photographs that can be sorted. Taking the time to write and record information that can be shared with younger generations is vitally important. Consider other hobbies such as gardening, playing a musical instrument or knitting. Now is the perfect time to learn a new hobby, too.
Partner with a trusted provider of credentialed caregivers. Offering friendly and consistent companionship and care, our referred care providers can help older adults navigate these trying times and ward off feelings of isolation and loneliness. From planning engaging activities at home to preparing nutritious meals and assisting with personal care needs, we work with you and your senior loved one to make an ideal care provider match, considering not only the skills necessary to deliver expert care, but personality and interests, too.
Our family of brands has proudly provided trusted and reliable in-home care in Florida for over 25 years. With offices conveniently located throughout the state, learn more about the services we provide in the following communities:
American In-Home Care – Serving North, Central, and West Coast of Florida
Advocate In-Home Care – Serving Southeast and Southwest Florida
Douglas In-Home Care – Serving Treasure Coast
Whitsyms In-Home Care – Serving Southeast and Southwest Florida
Contact us today at the location nearest you and let us help a senior you love thrive in the comfort and familiarity of home.
State of Florida License and Registration Numbers: 30211518, 30211651, 30211295, 30211390, 30210978, 30211293, 30211382, 30211504, 30211733, 30211535, 30211531, 30211710, 30211709, 30211045, 5661