Reducing Feelings of Social Isolation

Early in February, social distancing, a term used to refer to reducing your contact with others, became a media buzzword. Now, many are suggesting that we replace this term with the phrase physical distancing. The reason for this recommendation? While we need to limit the number of physical interactions we have with others to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we should not isolate ourselves socially and emotionally. In fact, it is more important than ever to keep in contact with our friends, families and communities.

Below are some tips for seniors, who may be more likely to feel isolated as a result of COVID-19.

  1. Keep in contact with friends and family.
  • Try to talk to at least one person from outside your household each day.
  • Zoom, Skype and Facebook Messenger are just three online platforms seniors can use to video chat with friends and family. If your internet access is limited, connect by phone. Arranging a regular time to have a phone or video conversation with someone you miss can give you something to look forward to each day.
  • Arrange a ‘drive-by visit’ with a family member. You could have a family member park across the street and hold up signs or messages. Even without physical distance, it can be nice to see a loved one’s face. If you, or the person you care about lives in a care-home, assisted living home or in independent living, see if it’s possible to arrange a window visit.
  1. Keep up with as many of your hobbies and passions as possible
  • Do you practice a religion? Although you cannot physically go to church, you can watch services online and still keep up your daily religious practices and prayers.
  • If you used to go a senior’s centre for arts and crafts, get creative to see what you can do from home. You can order arts supplies online, or ask a family member to place an order for you. Homemade crafts or goodies can make great gifts!
  1. Keep moving your mind and body
  • Exercise has many physical and mental benefits. If possible, go for a walk around your neighbourhood, walk around your house or practice low-impact yoga or stretching. Having someone to speak to about your goals can help you to keep accountable.
  • It is crucial to keep your mind active as well. Perhaps now is the time to learn about a subject you’ve always wanted to learn about, like environmental science, philosophy or ancient literature. Consider engaging with a virtual learning buddy who is interested in a similar topic, or create a virtual book club. As libraries and book stores slowly reopen, find out if you can order a book you’d like online and have it delivered to your home (or ask someone to drop it off for you).

Are you having a particularly difficult time coping with COVID-19?

Route 65 has more information and news about managing your mental health amidst COVID-19. Read more here.

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