COVID-19 has been documented as being particularly harmful to senior citizens. As such, it is essential that they do the best they can to . But what is social distancing and how does it differ from social isolation? This short guide aims to help you differentiate between the two and learn about how they can both impact seniors well-being, as well as providing you with advice on how you can help reduce the risk of someone you know being affected by social isolation.
What is Social Distancing?
Social distancing refers to the set of measures that must be taken to reduce contact between people. It has recently attracted attention as being the primary way of avoiding and spreading COVID-19. As people can be infected and transmit the disease up to two weeks before displaying symptoms, it’s essential that everybody adheres to social distancing best practices, regardless of whether they feel unwell or not and whether or not they display any symptoms.
Social distancing is essential for everybody to follow, with seniors and other vulnerable groups being advised to not leave their homes at all, if possible. It is recommended that people avoid non-essential use of public transport, avoid any gatherings in public places, avoid in-person meetings with family members and friends, and when out of the house on grocery trips or other essential outings, to maintain a safe distance from other people.
Social distancing is the most effective, non-pharmaceutical means of preventing the transmission of COVID-19 and can help seniors, and those who are close to them, stay safe during these strange times. Remember, social distancing doesn’t mean you should be antisocial, there are many ways in which you can engage with people around you and ensure that your elderly relatives don’t get lonely while they are stuck indoors.
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The Importance of Social Distancing
When implemented correctly, social distancing allows society to delay the spread of the virus so that it will infect people at a much slower rate. Lengthening the period of time in which the virus travels through a population is important for society as it reduces the strain on healthcare facilities and decreases the time until things are back to normal.
With social distancing being followed by the majority of society, it encourages a slower spread of cases of COVID-19 and ensures that people who need treatment the most are able to access it and the disruption to normal life remains at a minimum.
Social distancing is an essential part of reducing the amount of people with the virus at any one time. The less people who are carrying the virus, the less people who will be infected with it in the future, until it eventually dies down and disappears entirely.
It’s important to realize that social distancing doesn’t have to equate to social isolation, and that while it’s important to reduce all but essential close contact, it’s still possible to to spend time with loved ones, albeit not in person.
What is Best for Seniors?
The best place for seniors is at home, but staying at home can often result in social isolation. So, what can be done to help seniors stay connected to their family, friends, and their community when they and everyone close to them are engaging in social distancing?
There are many ways that seniors can keep themselves occupied while social distancing and there are quite a few things that can keep them emotionally fulfilled. It’s one thing finding a new way to pass the time, but it’s still important to ensure that social time that’s being missed out on is replaced with something. The following ideas are a good starting point to help your family stay connected when social distancing is essential.
Learn New Technologies
Learning new technologies can help improve the quality of life seniors have for the rest of their lives – long after the current crisis is over. Facebook, Twitter, Skype, and Facetime are easy-to-use, intuitive apps that can help seniors stay connected with their loved ones. The best thing is, you don’t really need to be tech-savvy to set up an account, so with a bit of patience and a phone call or two to guide them through the setup process, seniors can connect in a more meaningful way. Phone calls are great, but seeing who you’re talking to is even better. Seniors are guaranteed to love this new way of keeping in contact.
Virtual Book and Movie Clubs
Pick a book or a movie and then talk about it over the phone or via video chat. If you wanted, you could watch the movies at the same time, if background noise won’t be an issue for you all. Take the time to find something you haven’t read or watched before or take the time to revisit a classic that you know your senior relative is a fan of. With books, you could agree to talk every few chapters and increase seniors’ social interaction and help keep them occupied with reading. Entertainment can be a fantastic escape from the news and is something that can help keep seniors engaged during these times. It’s important to maintain new points of conversation during social distancing, as the chances are not much else will be going on in your lives. Watching the same films or reading the same books is a great way to do this and ensures conversation never goes stale.
Engage with the Community from Home
There are plenty of ways for seniors to remain in the community from home. There are a ton of organizations, charities, faith-based, and even political parties, that can help seniors continue to feel part of their local community. Many of these community-based groups have converted their activities to a virtual format to maintain the sense of community that many seniors rely on. You may need to offer a little help and guide them through the setup process, but once this has been done seniors generally will feel less daunted by the prospect of using new technologies. Staying in touch with any groups they were a part of before social distancing will help seniors to maintain a sense of normality that they may otherwise be struggling with.
Managing Social Isolation via Home Care
Another way that social isolation in seniors can be managed is via home care. While this may seem counter-intuitive to social distancing protocols, home care also offers companionship for seniors who may be suffering from loneliness during this time. Nurse Next Door has someone near you that is capable of keeping your elderly relatives safe and positive during these uncertain times.
With over 200 locations throughout the United States and Canada, Nurse Next Door is guaranteed to have someone that’s the perfect match for your elderly relative. Remember, home-care professionals are experienced in dealing with loneliness in general, not just during times of social distancing.
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