Helping Seniors Stay Engaged during COVID-19
We all have felt the impact of the coronavirus outbreak—whether its children staying home from school or small business owners forced to stop operations. Some of us also have people close to us who have contracted the virus.
In an effort to protect the most vulnerable populations, including senior communities, a self-quarantine has been highly recommended in many places and even mandated in several cities in the United States. While quarantining mitigates seniors’ risk of contracting this complex virus, it also puts many older adults at risk of isolation and depression.
Retirement communities and nursing homes are certainly doing the best they can—taking on the challenge of engaging residents without gathering in groups, and keeping physical contact extremely limited. And with the help of new technologies and innovative developments, seniors have been able to socialize and discover new opportunities to learn from the comfort and safety of their own homes.
Inspīr Modern Senior Living has contributed to this community-wide effort by compiling a list of virtual experiences, tours, performances, and online learning platforms to help residents mitigate risks of social isolation and help families feel more at ease during this time of social distancing and quarantine.
In light of the coronavirus outbreak, many organizations, including NPR, art galleries, and museums, have provided virtual experiences that are both entertaining and educational.
NPR has compiled an impressive list of live virtual concerts organized by genre and performance date. There are programs scheduled through mid-April, and archives are available to stream at any time. While some of the performances require registration and a fee, many of them are free to the public. From opera and classical to rock and metal, this list has something for all to enjoy. You can access the entire concert calendar here.
Many symphony performances are being offered for free to stream on your computer or phone. The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra live streamed their final performance and made it available for public viewing. The Royal Opera House has made some of their best performances available to view online. In addition to their opera performances, you can also watch some of their most popular ballet programs. Performances by the Vienna State Opera and Metropolitan Opera of New York City are also available to stream.
While vacations aren’t happening in the short term, it’s still possible to reach new destinations. The Vatican has an online destination that allows you to experience Vatican City and explore the wonders of the Sistine Chapel. Be sure to use the zoom feature to get a good look at all of the intricate details. Once you’re there, you can also visit other grand destinations and special exhibits. After you’ve taken in Vatican City, you can go to Indonesia to visit Prambanan, the area’s largest temple complex located northeast of Yogyakarta. Now is also the perfect time to virtually visit The White House in Washington D.C. and the Palace of Versailles.
Plays and Musicals
When Broadway went dark after mandates to close, it didn’t close doors on its creativity. BroadwayHD allows patrons to watch recorded performances. While the first week is free, they do require a small monthly fee to access their programs.
Exercise and Wellness
Many seniors stay active by making a daily trip to their local recreation center or “silver sneakers” class. With the closure of these facilities around the nation, seniors are looking for new exercise options. The good news is exercising from home is easier than ever. For inspiration, seniors can visit the National Institute on Aging’s Go4Life platform, which offers online exercise classes specifically for older adults. These exercise classes include chair workouts, stretches, and tips for stretching and building endurance.
Of course, exercise is as much about physical health as it is about mental health. Meditation apps, such as Calm, can help with mood and overall well-being.
In addition to utilizing apps and websites for mental health, it’s important for seniors to periodically check in with themselves. Here are a few tools to help with your mental wellness:
- Reaffirm your commitment to healthy habits: During this time of uncertainty, it can be tempting to reach for foods that are convenient but not healthy. However, it’s crucial to both your mental and physical wellness to nourish your body with food that will sustain you. Make sure to stay hydrated, limit sugar and fats, and eat well-balanced meals during the day.
- Extend kindness: Being nice simply makes you feel good. While you’re spending time alone, take the opportunity to think about those you care about. Decorate cards or make a video for your loved ones. Now is a great time to let your loved ones know how you feel.
- Ask for support: If you do start to feel lonely or isolated, do not hesitate to reach out. Call your counselor or family member and ask for help.
- Stay connected: Many facilities have asked visitors not to come for the time being. But your family can still see you virtually. Apps like Skype, FaceTime, and WhatsApp will allow you to see your family members without putting yourself at risk of contracting the virus or other illnesses.
Learning and Stimulation
As we all settle in to this routine and lifestyle, there are opportunities that come with it. Now is the perfect time to learn something new. Coursera partners with some of the best universities and companies in the world, like Google, Stanford, and IBM, to offer free classes to lifelong learners. This educational hub offers hundreds of free lectures from top professors at world-renowned universities.
Another great online learning resource is TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design). If you haven’t listened to a “TED Talk” before, it’s certainly something to try. TED offers free lectures from industry-leading professionals, activists, educators, and entertainers. Their archive is vastly diverse, ranging from art and education, health and wellness, to environment and ecosystem. There truly is a program for everyone.
While this is certainly an unprecedented time for our nation and the world, it can still be a time for growth and connection. At Inspīr Modern Senior Living, we’re equipping older adults with online tools and resources to help keep them active, safe, and healthy during this time of social distancing. Be safe and enjoy exploring.