Elders & COVID-19: Social Distancing

With coronavirus here, there is a certain amount of uncertainty that pervades the air. If you are a health aide or caretaker, this feeling may be exacerbated, especially when it comes to caring for your aging loved one. 

The CDC recommends that we enter into a time of social distancing. Namely, we need to forego any non-essential gatherings in order to ensure the spread of the virus is slow and manageable. 

Yet, within this period of social distancing, it is imperative that we do not equate that with social isolation. There is no one more vulnerable to feelings of loneliness than our aging loved ones, and it is imperative that we ensure they feel taken care of in this moment. 

If you are a caretaker or home health aide, here are a few ways to help seniors stay connected through this time of social distancing.

Choose a Video-Based Conferencing System for Connecting

One of the best ways to stay connected is through video-based conferencing. Just because we need to take the time to distance ourselves from others does not mean that we need to cut all communication entirely. In fact, with the dawn of the internet age, there is no better way to ensure you get enough face time with the ones you love! 

There are so many great free online platforms that allow for video conferencing. Programs such as Zoom, Skype, GoogleHangouts, and Facetime allow for multiple people to be entered into “chat rooms” to hangout. 

If your loved one is technology averse, never fear! It is very easy to set up an account for them. Simply ask them what username and password they would like, and make sure to write all security questions down for them. Once their account is set up, all your loved one needs to do is sign in and wait for the video conferencing call. 

Set Up a Schedule for Staying in Touch

Once you have your mode of communication, work with your caregiving ecosystem to create a schedule for your loved one. This is something that church communities, families, and home health care agencies can do to ensure that no elderly individual feels isolated. 

Through getting organized, and creating a set schedule of connection, communities can supplant in-person visits with remote calling. This can be through the digital sphere of web-conferencing, or simply through a phone call. Make certain to include your loved one in this planning, letting them dictate when they would like their online “visiting hours” to be.