Seniors were already the most socially isolated group before the coronavirus pandemic. Social distancing, while necessary, has only amplified that problem for our senior citizens.
Senior homes have closed their doors to visitors to help protect those inside them. Senior centers have canceled all of their group activities and are no longer freely open to the public. More seniors are closing themselves off entirely by staying home. We now have more seniors claiming to be even lonelier than before the COVID-19 outbreak.
We should all be concerned about this because multiple studies have correlated isolation and loneliness with higher mortality for older adults. Removing ourselves from contact with others is very harmful to our health. Many studies have equated it to being as bad as smoking and not exercising. Isolating and social distancing uniquely affects seniors more mentally, psychologically, and physically.
We must not allow the fear of this disease to destroy us from the inside out.
Social Distancing Seniors Studies:
- Social isolation, loneliness, and all-cause mortality in older men and women
- Loneliness and Social Isolation as Risk Factors for Mortality
Why Do They Call It Social Distancing?
I never could quite understand it. To me, the term should be “physical distancing”. We should be encouraging seniors to keep a safe physical distance from others, not avoid social contact and isolate themselves totally. Seniors still need to remain social, we just need innovative ways to do it now.
How Can Social Distancing Seniors Combat Loneliness?
The first thing social distancing seniors must do is realize that you are not alone in this struggle. We all feel lonely sometimes and are pretty much all stuck in the same dilemma. The key to breaking out of this loneliness cycle is to find creative ways to connect with others. We found the following to be the most helpful and impactful.
Call a Friend or Family Member
For me, the best surprises are when you hear from a loved one unexpectedly. I can remember the days before cellular phones and caller ID. As a child, I would light up like a Christmas tree when my grandparents or a friend called me. We should all take the initiative and call at least one loved one every day. For the best results, you can talk about anything and everything other than this wretched coronavirus outbreak.
Video Conference with Others
Thankfully, we social distancing seniors have great options like Skype when we really need to see another face. You want to make sure you maintain your social connections and this is one of the best ways. I typically Skype with at least one contact each week to keep my spirits up.
Facebook Chat, Pages, and Groups
Reach out to that friend you haven’t heard from in a while. Discover new groups and pages that interest you. Most of our readers know that Suddenly Senior has its own Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/suddenlyseniordotcom/). Send us a message, we’d love to hear from you. We’d like to know more about social distancing seniors’ experiences.
Pet Owner Therapy
Owning a pet can have its challenges during an outbreak like the coronavirus. However, pets can make up for the contact you can no longer acquire from humans. Be sure to coddle, play, and pet your animals more than usual. You’ll have more time for it now that you’re home most of the day.
Write a Letter or Postcard
Nobody seems to write letters anymore. It’s sadly a lost art. I kept a letter my great-grandmother sent me when I was a child. It’s one of the few material things that I actually cherish.
You can never underestimate the power of a few kind words. Writing to someone has become so rare that it’s almost guaranteed to touch the recipient if done properly. We’re suggesting all social distancing seniors take part.
Therefore, we decided to set an example. We just specialty ordered 100 unique Suddenly Senior postcards to send to readers.
If you would like to receive a postcard with a personalized message from us, please fill out our “Contact Us” page. Here are a few instructions to follow.
- Select “Postcard Request” from the topic drop-down
- Be sure to tell us something about you in the message…it will make our postcard response more personal
- Don’t forget to tell us your US mailing address…we’ll remind you if you forget 😉
The first 100 postcard requests we receive will be honored. We expect postcards to go out as soon as early to mid-April.
Finally, we’d love recipients to post photos of their postcard on our Facebook page to prove you received it.