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The Eldercare Advocate: The Coronavirus and Our Elders

March 19, 2020|Aging Parents, alternate nostril breathing, anxiety, breathing, breathing techniques, Bridge Generations, caregivers, confinement, coronavirus, COVID19, Depression, distance, Eldercare, feelings, Generations, Grandchildren, Grandparents, Intergenerational programs, Isolation, Loneliness, Love, meditation, Passions, possibilities, shelter in place, Skilled Nursing Facilities, Well-Being, wellbeing, wellness, wellness strategies, yogic breathing


The Coronavirus, or CORVID-19, has impacted people of all ages, cultures, and backgrounds around the world. Our elder citizens, and especially those who suffer from heart, lung, or immunodeficiency syndromes, smokers and persons with diabetes are at greater risk. As a result of the pandemic, and now an official US national health emergency, there is much confusion, some conflicting information, stress and fear. 


What can we do to help our elder citizens who remain isolated in their homes or resident in nursing homes or assisted living facilities, away from families and friends who are now not able to visit?


How can we help them remain engaged, help calm their minds and help keep them from being isolated and sitting idly which leads to feelings of depression? 


. Turn off the TV to avoid being bombarded with all of the negative “virus” news. It’s important to be up to date with important information, but constant negative information may be harmful both emotionally and psychologically. Thankfully, these are many options available.


In this digital and online age, there are many activities that can be enjoyed from the comfort of home that can keep you or your loved ones engaged and active. Here are some suggestions:


There is a vast difference between being alone and being lonely. Isolation lends itself to the latter.


Let us all use phone calls, Facetime, platforms for Video chats, or even shoot off a quick text to a neighbor, friend or loved one to connect for conversation or check on them and let them know we are there if they need something. Find some jokes, or cute stories to share to enjoy a laugh, bring a smile or warm the heart. This is a way not only to maintain relationships, but also to share words of love, kindness, comfort and appreciation for one another 


Develop an email “pen pal” program between young people in your family or your community with older loved ones to continue intergenerational communication. It’s comforting to know that everyone, young and old alike, may be experiencing the same feelings around “cabin fever”.

How many of us say we have no time to read or wish we had more time to read? The time is here, and the time is now to READ more and possibly even LEARN something new. Since your local library is closed, the internet has volumes of books and materials suited to your area of interest. Download your favorite e-book or audiobook instead. Create a virtual book club with friends, families or neighbors and video call each other to discuss. 


How many of us say we have no time to read or wish we had more time to read? The time is here, and the time is now to READ more and possibly even LEARN something new. Since your local library is closed, the internet has volumes of books and materials suited to your area of interest. Download your favorite e-book or audiobook instead. Create a virtual book club with friends, families or neighbors and video call each other to discuss. 

Take a virtual museum tour.  Many museums offer a similar experience on your smart phone. The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and the Guggenheim Museum are among a few US museums that host online tours. Interested in museums overseas? Google Arts and Culture has a collection of virtual walk-throughs for dozens of museums around the globe.

Learn a language or a few phrases from a language spoken by friends, neighbors or even from the country from which your ancestors originated. 

Do crossword puzzles. This is also a great way to boost your vocabulary and learn interesting tidbits of information.

YouTube or Instagram Live – Watch or listen to lectures, TED talks and other informational programs to stimulate the mind.

Online Courses – enroll in a local online adult education or college course.

Are you a Movie or TV Buff?

Watch an Old movie or one that was on your “never seen but always wanted to see” list.

Watch a Documentary or binge watch a TV series or weekly special, concerts of your favorite groups or artists, etc. 

Film critic types – have you always been itching to share your opinions, thoughts and insights on films you’ve seen and with whom you don’t agree with the critics? Share them on Facebook or Twitter. A social networking site known as Letterboxd Is another outlet to share ideas.

You may be told to shelter in place, but getting fresh air is equally important to your health and well-being. The outdoors is a great way to clear your mind, keep your blood circulating, and get in your cardio workout. Your local gym may be closed but your local park or nature trail is not. As long as you stay a safe distance from others, consider going out for a walk. The early morning hours may be a good time when there are fewer people out and about.  

If not already in a warm climate, Spring is springing is some parts of the country. Start birdwatching, even from your window ledge. You can find out about bird types and the many ways to identify them, including their specific chirps and song.

Are weeds cropping up in your garden? Consider getting outside and doing some weeding. If you don’t have an outside garden area, consider doing indoor planting in pots. Vegetables, as well as flowers can be grown indoors. Consider growing various herbs which you can use to enhance the flavors when you cook.

Enjoy cooking?

Make that recipe you always wanted to try. Watch a cooking show and try to cook along with it. 

Find new recipes. Peruse your cookbooks or seek out interesting recipes on the internet and try them out. If it’s only you, you don’t have to be concerned about anyone else passing judgment at your culinary attempts to be Rachel Ray or Bobby Flay.

Avid Sports Fan?

Watch sports documentaries. Sports documentaries may help you become the sports expert you always wanted to be. Listen carefully to the commentary, THEN…

Rewatch an old game that you missed or one of your favorites and greatest and see if you agree or if your commentary would differ from the “experts”.

Bring out the board games! Clue, The Game of Life, or Scrabble. Board games were fun then, they can become fun again. If you are home alone, try online games with teammates from your area, around the country or around the globe.

Tackle a ginormous puzzle. Challenging but not frustrating or maddening.

Make art. Consider making a collage from magazines, dusting off the knitting needles, or combing through photos and creating an album of your favorite pictures to give as gifts to your family and friends.

Organize… UGH!!!! Have endless piles of papers or magazines you’ve never read? No time like the present to go through those old magazines, piles of papers, clean out the odds and ends drawers, closets or shelves.

Tax time. This is certainly a dreaded chore. Now that the deadline may be extended, you can start to organize or start to prepare at a more leisurely pace.

Self-care: “IMpathy” ™ Your mental health is precious, especially during periods of social isolation. Take care of yourself. 

Breathing. Explore and Enjoy the art of deep breathing/calming exercises to help you relax.

Meditate. Emptying your mind and center. There are meditation apps and YouTube videos to help you learn the practice and guide you through it.

Exercise. This may be a good time to get in that physical exercise that you say you never have time for. Download an exercise or yoga program. View Online or YouTube.

Dancing. On a personal note I love dancing and had to take a hiatus from dance lessons for several months. I was hoping to get back to it this month and was disappointed that the dance schools where I take lessons are closed. No Worries. There are a variety of offerings for dance instruction online. YAY!!!!! Please take care of yourself not only physically, being mindful of your movements, contacts and surroundings, but also to care of your emotional, psychological and social wellbeing. Most importantly, know we are all in this together. If there was ever a time to realize we are part of a global community, this is it! 


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Copyright © 2020 Phyllis Ayman. All Rights Reserved