One of the fallouts of the Coronavirus epidemic has been stay-at-home orders and the forced lock-down of senior living communities. Seniors have been ordered to stay in their rooms and are not allowed to leave the building unless there is an emergency or essential service needed. Care Manager, Hope Freeman of Home Care Assistance says, "Seniors, already suffering from separation from their friends and families, are forced deeper into isolation due to these orders. Being confined leads to a lack of movement and exercise, decreased mental and social stimulation, and in some cases an increased consumption of alcohol. All of these spiraling effects can contribute to deep depression and loneliness and a diminished sense of purpose."
What can be done during a time like this? Your loved one needs to feel connected and have a sense of purpose each day in order to function properly. They need to feel connected and useful and they need to be able to maintain their positive routines as much as possible. If, prior to the coronavirus pandemic, your loved one was actively walking a mile each day around the neighborhood, then an alternative exercise plan that mirrors that activity as close as possible within the confines of what is allowed would be ideal. Perhaps walking within the building (or courtyard if allowed) with a proper mask. If that is not allowed, then creating a 30-minute chair exercise routine.
Similarly, if social gatherings used to be part of the regular daily routine, then substitute the card games, mealtime discussions, and happy hours with online games (or games through phone apps) and online mealtimes and happy hours with family and friends. Formats like Zoom and Facetime are good for this. This may require somebody with technical knowledge to set it up, but it is worth the effort to stay connected. These connection ideas may not come naturally to our elderly loved ones who are stuck in routine and not used to thinking outside the box. So we must do it for them.
Additionally, I have seen some very creative ideas on how to stay connected with loved ones. Just the other day I was visiting a building and saw a granddaughter and daughter who had pulled two chairs up to the outside window of the main lobby. They had a mobile phone on speaker mode and were speaking to their loved one on the other side of the window. They were sharing the events of the week with their loved one allowing her to stay involved in their lives while staying safe and respecting social distancing requirements and building rules. They could interact fully as if they were in the same room.
Other clever ways to connect include using some form of device and/or various apps; Apple Facetime, Facebook Portal, Amazon Echo, Google Duo, and WhatsApp to name a few. These all have varying degrees of cost and hardware/software purchase, but all can be effective ways to stay connected with family members across walls and even across the world.
Home Care Assistance of Douglas County is in the business of caring for seniors wherever they call home. "Caring for our clients during this time is challenging. We have to be creative in this new environment and learn new ways to do everything in our business and personal lives in order to be effective. Rules and regulations, along with the uncertainty of the virus, have not permitted us to continue care for some of our clients, so we have come up with a very innovative tool," Freeman says. Home Care Assistance created a Life Enrichment Guide (link address below) that promotes engagement and stimulation while socially isolated. The guide allows for easy ways to tour famous museums and locations around the world, or learn about famous artists and museums and seeing their works come alive in front of you. Freeman mentions, "As long as there is an internet connection, our caregivers can use the Life Enrichment Guide while with our clients or remotely in order to take them on a journey to places they never thought they could go. It allows the user to literally access the world."
Home Care Assistance is the nation’s leading provider of in-home care services. It is our goal at Home Care Assistance to not only provide the highest quality of care for your loved one but also create a lasting bond and friendship that brightens your loved one’s life.