As the COVID-19 pandemic surges on in Washington and around the nation, individuals of all ages are being encouraged to follow a variety of social practices to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.
For older adults in West Seattle, practices such as quarantining and limiting contact with others is considered especially important as they are at a higher risk of developing serious complications if they contract the virus. While doing so may help protect your physical health, it comes at a cost, as self-isolation often contributes to negative feelings, such as loneliness and desolation.
What Does It Mean to Self-Isolate?
Since March, residents of West Seattle have been required to isolate and quarantine themselves to prevent exposure to others who may have the coronavirus. While isolation separates people who are sick from people who are not sick, quarantining technically refers to the practice of separating and restricting the movements of people who may have been exposed to the coronavirus. However, these terms have become ubiquitous over the past few months, and many people use them interchangeably to refer to the mandated practice of staying home and limiting contact with others as much as possible.
Although state- and locally mandated regulations are being assessed and changed regularly, these social practices are still being encouraged, particularly for seniors.
How to Make Seniors Less Lonely During Self-Isolation
If you’ve been self-isolating for several months now, it’s normal to being feeling restless and lonely, and you’re not the only one. There are millions of older adults in the U.S. who live alone and are especially vulnerable during this time. To help you or your loved one cope with the experience of increased isolation and loneliness during COVID-19—or in general—here are a few tips:
1. Take Up a New Hobby
One of the best ways for seniors to deal with the mental conditions that often accompany loneliness and isolation, such as depression, cognitive decline, and anxiety, is to find a new sense of purpose. You can try taking up a new hobby, such as practicing an instrument, sewing, cultivating a small flower or herb garden, drawing, journaling, reading, or learning a new card game. If you are unable to physically participate in these hobbies with other like-minded persons, you can find Facebook groups or online communities who are interested in the same topics or activities and encourage one another’s newfound passion.
2. Exercise Regularly
Exercise is beneficial for everyone at any time. However, social isolation and loneliness are linked to a higher risk of both physical and mental conditions—from high blood pressure and heart disease to obesity and a weakened immune system—so it’s especially important to be taking care of yourself during the pandemic. Find workouts designed for seniors or exercises you enjoy doing and integrate them into your daily routine at home. The consistency is good for both your physical and mental health, along with helping you feel like your best self.
3. Keep a Regular Sleep Routine
Another side effect of being at home and generally less active is a disruption to people’s sleep schedules. When you’re sitting inside, doing low-energy activities for more substantial portions of the day, it’s normal to feel more restless at night. Not to mention the stress and anxiety being caused by the pandemic. As much as you can, try to maintain a routine that includes consistent waking and sleeping cycles. If you’re struggling to do so, talk with your healthcare provider about what could help you with your sleep.
4. Reach Out to Loved Ones
Building and maintaining meaningful relationships is also important for seniors in West Seattle. Thanks to technology, there is a wide variety of tools you can use to communicate with your loved ones, from voice and video calls to emailing, texting, and sending video clips of yourself. Now might also be a good time to find a pen pal and correspond via letters and small, personal packages. Schools, churches, and other organizations may have a program to link you with someone you don’t know yet. These activities give you a sense of connection and also something to look forward to.
5. Virtually Visit Somewhere New
Travel is being stymied at the moment because it’s difficult to do safely, but that doesn’t mean you can’t explore somewhere new. Several museums, zoos, parks, and other institutions are offering virtual tours that you can join from the comfort of your home or senior living community. If you’re into the arts, you can also “attend” virtual concerts, dance recitals, and other performances. Although it’s not quite the same as experiencing these places and events in-person, it’s a good way to continue learning about, supporting, and enjoying the things you find interesting and meaningful.
Fostering Relationships in a Senior Living Community
Seniors in West Seattle are at risk of loneliness, not only as they self-isolate during COVID-19 but also as a natural part of growing older. Another way to help you or your loved one mitigate the feelings of being isolated or alone is to move into a senior community, such as Daystar Retirement Village. Whether you’ve recently retired and become an empty-nester or have gradually grown tired of living alone, Daystar enables you to reside in a community of your peers where you can make new friends, spend time together on a daily basis, and engage in a variety of enjoyable and edifying activities on and off campus.