Physical distancing does not mean we have to be disconnected. What can older adults do now to ease the distance?
*Article content thanks to Victoria Atabakhsh and Joe Todd from The Conversation
Older adults are one of the populations most vulnerable to COVID-19. This vulnerability likely means they will probably have to engage in physical distancing for longer than the general population.
For these adults, staying social during this time, while maintaining a physical distance, is crucial. Even before COVID-19, older adult populations have been dealing with the realities of social isolation and loneliness. The isolation, however, has been highlighted and exacerbated with the coronavirus pandemic.
Before COVID-19, those of us in the field of geriatrics, have been trying to help create a culture of community to combat depression, social isolation and loneliness. However, right now physical distancing is utterly necessary.
Video calls can help
Older adults who used video chat technology such as Skype had significantly lower risks of depression than those who did not video chat. Video calls can help us all cope with this pandemic, and enhance the well-being of an older population moving forward.
Video calling platforms can help support the development of a stronger sense of connection and maintain already existing relationships.
Video calls keep older adults engaged and a part of their loved ones’ lives. They can still visit with their grandchildren, have that morning coffee with their friends and be virtually present for memorable moments like birthdays. It allows older adults to remain physically distant, but emotionally present.
Several accessible and free options are available such as: WhatsApp, FaceTime, Skype, Zoom and more. These apps allow older adults to interact face-to-face with their loved ones.
Technology is pervasive
While some older adults have good access to technology, others will need assistance using it.
Many older adults in residential villages will need some help with technology. If you are a younger family or community member, you can help.
In Great Company are proud to support a volunteer program within our residential villages which allows volunteers to assist residents with such technology so they can connect with their distant loved ones via video calling.