Staying Connected With Your Parents During Self-Isolation

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Staying connected with seniors

We may not be able to kiss, hug or hold our parents hand, but that doesn't mean we still can't light up their day!

In response to the Coronavirus, more and more Americans are practicing social-distancing and self-isolation to help slow the virus and avoid infection. This is especially true of seniors, who seem to be the most vulnerable to the virus, with those 65 years and older accounting for 8 out of 10 deaths

To help avoid contracting or spreading the virus, the CDC recommends adults over the age of 65 "limit interactions with other as much as possible." Where that's not possible, they recommend you keep at least 6 feet apart from others, wash your hands often, clean and disinfect high touch surfaces and cover your mouth and nose with a cloth covering.

Safe ways to stay connected

Self-isolating and social distancing are critical to protecting yourself and your parents from Covid-19. However, ensuring we maintain social connections with others during self-isolation is critical to avoiding loneliness and depression, bad outcomes in themselves. So how do we circle the square?

Fortunately, there are quite a few ways we can stay connected with friends and family, even if we are self-isolating.

  • Daily phone calls: This is still the easiest way for many seniors to stay in touch. A quick call on the way to or from work goes a long way.

  • Video calls: More intimate than a phone call, it also gives you a chance to see any changes in your parents behavior or appearance that may merit follow-up.

  • Virtual dinners: Include your parents at your dinner table via video conference. If that seems like a little too much for you, perhaps just do a toast or prayer together, if that's your thing.

  • Bedtime stories to the grand kids: Talk about killing two birds with one stone. Give your parents purpose, your kids a nightly treat and yourself a break!

  • Online games: Whether it's chess, backgammon, Scrabble, anagrams or cards play it online with your mom or dad or arrange for them to play with their friends.

  • Virtual cheerleaders: With video chat, let the grandparents watch and encourage your kids while they shoot hoops in the backyard, ride their bike, sink a putt or do back-flips off the diving board.

  • Cooking: Ask your mother to cook or bake her signature dish. Or make her favorite dish for her. Nothing connects us like food.

  • Crafts: Have the grand kids make pictures, cards, sculptures or bracelets for the grandparents. What better way to feel remembered than to know people are thinking about you when you're not around.

  • Visits from a distance: Visit your parents and talk to them from the curb. If they live in a facility, talk to them from their balcony. The novelty of it alone can make it fun. Bring the kids. The more the merrier.

  • Picnic from afar: If your parents can drive on their own, have them pack a lunch, you pack yours, and picnic in a park together. Just make sure you're on separate blankets or benches and be appropriately distanced from each other.