Contact and connection are crucial human needs much like food on our plates or shelter over our heads. So during this period of social distancing, we have to look beyond the in-person game nights or lunches out to meet our social needs.
As Stanford psychology professor Jamil Zaki says in a Q+A, “We should think of this time as ‘physical distancing’ to emphasize that we can remain socially connected even while being apart.” He also recommends the term “distant socializing,” which encourages us to stay in touch, even from afar. Here are five ways seniors can find connection during these uncertain times.
Finding communities online
The big social media networks — Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter — can sometimes feel like an exhausting, never-ending scroll of posts and news stories. But they’re also full of opportunities for connections, especially if you look out for niche interests, like a Facebook group for hobbies like sewing or gardening, or following film critics on Twitter. You can also check out local-specific networks like Nextdoor, a social community for neighborhoods, where locals share news, recommendations, and updates.
Video calls have become a lifeline for social connection, whether it’s a check-in with the grandkids or coffee with cross-country friends. If you have an iPhone, iPad, or MacBook, FaceTime is the most straightforward option for one-on-one calls, while the video app Zoom is popular for bigger group chats. It can also be a good idea to set up a regular call so you have something on the calendar to look forward to, like a weekly chat to discuss a book or movie.
Keeping up with podcasts
A good podcast can be an absorbing story, an unexpected journey, or like a laid-back conversation with a group of friends. They also connect us to current events, digging deeper into the day’s news, and teaching us new things. Well-produced NPR podcasts like Planet Money, which looks at all things economy-related, or Life Kit, offering advice from how to sleep better to how to help during the pandemic, are a good place to start. You can also browse the website Podchaser, which groups podcasts by genres and has curated podcast lists and reviews.
Email & traditional mail
The act of letter writing, or even composing longer, personal emails, has become something of a lost art. But taking the time to sit down and write can be a therapeutic release — allowing us to process and share thoughts on just what daily life and routines are like now. To find a long-distance letter writing partner, you could try a Facebook group like the Worldwide Snail Mail Pen Pals, or the postcard pen pal website Post Crossing, which matches you with people from across the globe.
One of the most effective ways of staying social online is by mimicking the activities that we would do in real life. Instead of a straightforward video conversation, we can take part in simultaneous activities with friends, like watching a movie at the same time using a chatting app like Airtime or Netflix Party, or baking or cooking the same dish, and then eating together. Mellow exercise videos like gentle yoga can also be a fun activity to do together, or you can both follow the same stretching routine, and then finish off with a cup of coffee or glass of wine.
At Care Advantage, we understand the importance of combating senior isolation, which is why our caregivers play such a key part in the lives of our clients and their families. Reach out to us today to discuss your options for in-home care services.