Tips for helping seniors stay connected
The Stay Connected program has created a list of ways to help seniors reduce feelings of isolation during the pandemic.
Many of us are isolated during the pandemic, especially those of our seniors who are not allowed visitors or to leave their living quarters. Phone calling loved ones is helpful. But there are other ways to keep connected and keep your spirits lifted. It just takes some creativity and adapting. Stay Connected, a program using evidence-based depression and stress-mangement techniques through phone support, involves strategic outreach to empower older people.
Patrick Raue, professor of psychology in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine, leads the program’s rollout to senior centers and public housing facilities in Washington state. He offers these tips:
- Brainstorm: Brainstorm all sorts of things you might do to feel connected to others. You are creating a “bank” of activities you can draw from, especially during those times when you might not feel so inspired.
- Pleasurable activity: Plan a few relatively easy things you could do in the next week to boost your mood. Be specific. What are you going to do? What day? When? These could be hobbies, spiritual activities, or just reaching out to a close family member or friend. The key is to start slow, build on your success, make deliberative plans, and follow through on ideas you have for staying connected to others.
- Learn Zoom: If you aren’t using Zoom already, get help with setting this up. It’s easier than you think, and it’s a wonderful way to join activities with others.
- Friendly caregiver: If possible, have a family member or friend become a caregiver for a weekly visit.
- Senior centers: Senior centers have all had to switch programming online and have come up with innovative ideas. Check with local senior centers for online programming.
- Virtual activities: Scroll down for the section on "Older adult and family resources.” This list includes links for virtual activities like museum tours, videos, and other information.
- Phinney Center's Pen Pal project: Kids practice their penmanship and communication skills, and learn how to address an envelope to send a letter. Kids and seniors both get to make a new friend.
- Friendship Line: This 24-hour toll-free Friendship Line from the Institute on Aging offers both a crisis line and non-emergency emotional support calls for adults 60 years and older and adults living with disabilities. Call 1-800-971-0016 (toll-free).
- Tips on managing stress: These are tips from the National Center on post-trauma stress syndrome, or PTSD.
- Mindfulness Coach: The Veterans Center on PTSD has created an app to help anyone adopt a simple mindfulness practice.