Senior Living Advice: Tips on helping seniors thru COVID-19

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By Beth Dow, Solutions By Beth

There seems to be a paradox going on here and around the country.

While we may often differ in our political views, religious views or regional traditions, today we are also split between those who are staying home and those who are not.  And for those who are not staying home, there is an additional divide between the mask wearers, the glove wearers and those who are going “all natural.”

Everyone is trying to get through this as best they can; each doing the amount of social distancing and “sheltering” that each can personally accept.

During this time some of our most vulnerable folks are our seniors.  Whether they are living at home alone or in a senior community, the separation from family, friends and day-to-day activities that keep their mind focused and their spirits lifted have all but disappeared.  Fear, from weeks of hearing that those over 65 are especially susceptible to the virus, is now left to circulate in their minds that are void of meaningful conversations and activities.

I truly expect a decline in health for many of our seniors after this is over.  Much like the decline that occurs in longtime caregivers after the one they have been caring for passes; the stress, the worry and lack of socialization just catches up to them.

So, what can you do now to help your loved ones that are seniors?  Here are a few tips.

If you leave your home, go see them!  If you are going to the grocery store, the home maintenance/building supply store, or even work, why have you drawn the line and not gone to see your loved one?  Now I for one, believe that everyone who can, should be sheltering in place.  But I am going to work everyday and I see tons of folks out; in the stores, in the drive-throughs.  So, all I am saying is if you are already breaking your shelter in place status, go by and see your aging loved one.  Stay outside the door, outside the window, or have them come out and you stay your approved distance but go see them.  Call them and  tell them that you will be driving by and to listen for your car horn.  Do anything where they can feel connected to you.  (On a side note, I see lots of seniors on the roads also….if you are out and about, call your grandchildren and  have them stand on their porch or driveway as you ride by honking.  They will love it!)

Make phone calls.  Often, just to check in.  Don’t just ask them what they are doing, give them suggestions on what they can do.  Ask them to watch a certain TV show that you are also going to watch.  Tell them you will call them after and talk about it.  If they can FaceTime, do it.  Have extended family members FaceTime them.  Send them letters and cards.

Most importantly, whether it be a conversation through a window or over a phone line, assure them that things are getting better.  Share with them all the good news that you have heard.  They hear enough of the bad news if they are watching the news shows  or reading the paper.  Share with them good news and find things for them to look forward to doing or seeing. Help them find a light at the end of the tunnel and assure them that at the end of this season, and it is just a season, there will be a great big hug, from you, waiting on them.

If you are not able to get out to ensure that your loved one is doing ok, remember that home care agencies are considered essential and are still on the job 24/7.  If you need help finding  one that is perfect for what is needed now email me at [email protected] and I will be happy to help.   

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Beth Dow is a Dementia and Alzheimer’s Educator, CAEd, Geriatric Case Manager and  Certified Senior Advisor. Contact her at [email protected]

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