How Older Adults Can Stay Socially Connected

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Being isolated from family, friends and community can have its own negative impact on your health. With our new normal of social distancing to avoid exposure to Coronavirus and reduce the spread of COVID-19, isolation and loneliness are now a concern for even more older adults. We hope these suggestions can help you stay connected.

Plan to talk or chat regularly. Set up a schedule to connect with family members and friends so days don’t go by without contact. Many senior use email or online platforms like Zoom and Skye to keep in touch. If you don’t have Internet access or aren’t comfortable with those platforms, use the phone. Getting mail from a friend always feels good, so send a card or letter to someone you’d like to correspond with – and look forward to a reply.

Think beyond phones and laptops. All over the world, people are finding creative ways to connect. In Italy, urban dwellers open their windows to sing each evening. At a retirement community in Maine, residents open their apartment doors at 5 p.m. to greet hallmates from a safe distance and enjoy a quick catch-up. Who knows what you might come up with?

Get advice from other seniors. Many have sound advice and savvy tips to share. Jean Potuchek, a retired sociologist and college professor, blogs about her experience as a single senior. Find her insights here.

Move your book group, knitting club or bridge group online. Keep in touch virtually, with a Facebook group or a Google hangout.

Be prepared for downtime:

Read. Dust off a book you’ve been meaning to start. Join Audible or another digital audiobook provider. Some offer free audio downloads. LibriVox has titles that are no longer under copyright. Free Audiobooks is a free app for Apple users. Lit2Go has audiobooks formatted for MP3 players. (If you like to read, LibriVox is looking for volunteers to record more books. Learn more.)

Do yoga. It’s a great way to stay calm and strong. Try this gentle 28-minute sequence designed and led for seniors, or our own 58-minute session for older adults who are more comfortable practicing from a chair.

Learn. The Senior College at USM Lewiston-Auburn is offering free online courses for adults 50 and up. Topics range the artists of Mohegan to the world of baseball, and include single session and multi-week formats. Classes meet via Zoom – and you can join a free hour-long online workshop to learn how to use this platform Send an email laseniorcollege@gmail.com or call 207-753-6610 for more information.

One final tip: Avoid the temptation to follow the news all day – it can be upsetting and add even more stress. Try tuning in once or twice a day instead.

Do you have an idea that might help another senior connect with others? Share it below. We’re all in this together!

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