In this unique time, those over 60 should take extra precautions and be more vigilant in practicing social distancing (remaining at least six feet apart) or should even consider self-quarantine. That means relying more on others. But that can seem daunting, even frightening, for them, especially if they’re used to being independent.
We get it. That’s why we put together these six tips for helping older loved ones manage their time and health while maintaining their distance from family and friends.
Unchecked, isolation can lead to feelings of restlessness and depression. Checking in on your parents helps curb the cabin fever. While they protect their health, take time each day to touch base. Ask them questions to be sure they understand what’s happening and to find out if they need help. It’s easy to accept “I’m fine” but try to probe further. This can be difficult as many older people don’t want to feel like they’re complaining or burdening you, so gently remind them that these are unique times and that we can all help each other.
Also try to set aside time to ask them to share stories about similar experiences they may have had and what they did to rise above that situation. Connect with their stories. Show them that joy thrives, even in change.
Being homebound doesn’t obligate us to be couch bound. Extra downtime is an opportunity to get active. Exercise is increasingly important to our health as we age, and can aid the body’s system while defending it against muscle wasting and bone loss. Working out is a great way to stay connected with family, and benefits everyone.
Read up on some low-impact workouts and give them a try over FaceTime. If your parents are consistently active, join them in this high intensity interval training regimen (HIIT) from Jennifer Cohen, a trainer who has inspired thousands to start their own simple home exercise journey. HIIT builds muscle fast and aids in a healthy metabolism. This particular workout only takes 10 minutes and can be done at home.
Many seniors had full social calendars and staying in while trying to stay healthy leaves gaping holes in their days, especially if they don’t have other hobbies to fall back on. If someone’s calendar was filled with volunteer activities, suggest they look for ways to give back virtually. They can check out volunteer opportunities that help out on a larger scale. Or they can also look for ways to help locally. At Create The Good you can find opportunities specific to a zip code.
This could also be a chance for them to document (either by voice or on paper) the family history and stories they’ve been meaning to share. Remind them that younger generations would be delighted to learn about adventures from when they were young--or even more recent ones. You could even set aside time regularly for them to share.
Another idea is to challenge them to learn something new each day. With online access and basic search techniques, they could delve into a topic they’ve been interested in. Or they could learn a new skill (perhaps with help from a grandchild) using their smartphone or computer. This would also give you something to ask about during your regular check-ins that isn’t focused on the news.
Older adults can sometimes be stubborn or avoidant when it comes to their health. It’s understandable–no one likes being given orders. Instead, lead by example. You can take the reins on your family’s health. Urge a shift by building a vitamin routine alongside them. The aging population is more prone to deficiencies and infections, and maintaining good health is vital.
As we age, we experience a 50% decline in a cellular resource called NAD+. This essential molecule helps our cells generate energy. To increase and maintain their NAD+ levels, gift them a few months of Tru Niagen®. This micronutrient supports cellular repair and resilience, for supercharged cells equipped for a new world. As always, check with your healthcare provider before adding any new supplements to your daily health routine.
Even though many grocery stores are setting aside hours specifically for seniors, grocery shopping may still be a risk. Fortunately, there are other solutions. Most supermarkets offer online shopping and delivery at low cost. Online grocery shopping makes it easier to buy the essentials from home–but it may require some patience on your part as you help your aging parents navigate the website.
Fresh produce delivery boxes are another nutritious option. There are programs that deliver seasonal, fresh produce straight to someone’s door. Fruits and veggies often go forgotten in times of panic. Ironically, it’s times like this when our bodies most need nutrients.
Meal subscription services could also be helpful for your parents who aren’t able to easily prepare meals. There are a wide variety to choose from so you should be able to find one that meets their dietary needs as well as cooking abilities.
With any deliveries, don’t forget to wash down and sanitize outside packaging! Also remind them to dispose of any boxes or sacks immediately afterwards.
In lieu of an in-person check in, get in touch with your parents’ neighbors. Ask them to check in (by phone or through a window) twice a week to ensure your parents are taking good care of themselves and staying inside. Or go the “extra mile” and connect them with their neighbors in a village group chat or help them sign up for online neighborhood hubs. There are new mutual aid networks sprouting up all over the country so you may be able to participate in one of those in your parents’ neighborhood--or even help get one set up for their community. Community is impactful, and makes the all difference between social distance and true isolation.