Have you heard the expression “Words have Power?” COVID 19 is changing our vocabulary. Words and phrases such as

  • Contactless
  • Containment area
  • Lockdown
  • Physical distancing
  • Self isolation
  • Self quarantine
  • Shelter in place

are part of our everyday lingo. These words convey actions that are necessary to keep our communities safe. Communication relies on facial expressions. Our smiles are masked so that we can protect others around us.

Persons who are over 65 are at the most vulnerable to be compromised by this infection. This group also has the highest death rate. Older adults are more likely to feel socially isolated and experience anxiety and depression due to feeling lonely. Without meaningful social interactions and stimulation, older adults, cognitive functioning can decline. The CDC’s research and review of published studies paint a somber picture.

  • Social isolation significantly increased a person’s risk of premature death from all causes, a risk that may rival those of smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity.
  • Social isolation was associated with about a 50% percent increased risk of dementia.
  • Poor social relationships (characterized by social isolation or loneliness) was associated with a 29% increased risk of heart disease and a 32% increased risk of stroke.
  • Loneliness was associated with higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide.
  • Loneliness among heart failure patients was associated with a nearly 4 times increased risk of death, 68% increased risk of hospitalization, and 57% increased risk of emergency department visits.

There doesn’t appear to be an end in sight to these days of social isolation. What can we do to help our elderly friends family and neighbors feel connected? Here are some strategies to consider.

Technology shapes much of our social interaction. Digital communication can range from virtual chat programs such as zoom or face time, social media sites such as Facebook, and texting. All of these methods are capable of providing a portal to conversations with others. The importance of telephone calls cannot be overlooked. The sound of a friendly voice can change the day for the better. A local nonprofit, Family Eldercare, facilitates friendship and conversation with their program Lifetime Connections Without Walls. While based in Austin, this service has participants throughout the country. The Institute on Aging Friendship Line 1-800-971-0016 is a friendly voice available 24/7 year-round in Spanish, English, Mandarin, and Cantonese. Structuring their day can help give older adults a sense of purpose. Help them make a daily plan with their preferred activities, such as puzzles, gardening, cooking, reading, or telephone conversations with friends. CDC guidelines list what older adults can do to stay safe when leaving their homes. Mailing “care packages” containing favorite treats, jokes, books, and other fun items would be appreciated. Use a streaming service such as Netflix to watch a movie together. Consider reviving the lost art of letter-writing. This pandemic is a time for families and communities to look out for each other. These suggestions can be used to keep *you* socially connected as well.

arrangeCARE can help you find options to keep your loved one or yourself socially connected. Our Care Managers are knowledgeable about resources in our community. Let us know how we can help!

You can reach us in the following ways:

(512) 814-3228