Staying close to home and avoiding crowded places can help older adults reduce their risk of being exposed to COVID-19. Physical distancing may come with a cost for older adults. According to the University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging, in June 2020, 56% of older adults reported feeling isolated. This is up significantly from 27% in 2018. The results of this poll suggest that the pandemic has had a substantial impact on feelings of loneliness and social connections among older adults.
Social isolation is defined as a lack of meaningful contact with others. Often people do not notice the signs of isolation in themselves and their family. Social relationships affect mental, behavior, and physical health as well as mortality risk. With the number of older adults projected to increase exponentially, social isolation will likely impact the health, well-being and quality of life of numerous individuals even after the pandemic is over.
How can you stay connected with others?
It is important to nurture and strengthen existing relationships. During this unprecedented time, there are countless technologies that can help you connect with loved ones and people with common interests.
Phone and Video Calls
Phone and video calls can help reduce feelings of being alone. Take time to share stories, tell jokes, solve riddles, play simple games, or read aloud with them. If possible, take advantage of video call apps like Zoom and spend time with multiple family members on the same call.
Don’t want to watch the TV alone? Watch the same shows while staying connected, feeling their presence through your laptop or your phone.
Celebrate good news or birthdays. You can party together virtually through social media platforms. Options like Facebook and Twitter help people share thoughts, pictures, and news with just a few clicks.
For those who enjoy writing letters or cards, email may feel familiar. Email has the advantage of instant delivery and no stamps are needed.
You can also check out faith-based organizations for virtual spiritual engagement, as well as to participate in activities and events that have transitioned to online platforms.
How can Rehabilitation help?
Because therapy facilitates participation and is client-centered, it plays an important role in the success of those at risk for social isolation. Your rehab team can offer educational opportunities to address self-awareness, interpersonal and social skills, stress management, and role development.
Therapy can work with clients to achieve their highest level of self-performance in functional skills which may prevent social isolation. We can assist in the development and instruction of compensatory and adaptation techniques to facilitate increased functional performance, attention and safety. Therapy can also deliver interventions to preserve mobility, socialization and ADL skills.
For additional information, please contact your Select Rehabilitation Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapists. In addition, consult your rehab team today if you are concerned that you or your loved one may be dealing with social isolation.
Tammy Cruz, Director of Rehab at Eden Hill | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Phone: 830-500-2405