The coronavirus has left average Americans in the unfortunate position of facing self-isolation, quarantines and significant disruptions to their usual lives. For older adults, social distancing may seem unnatural and an unnecessary inconvenience, but adhering to these recommendations could play an important role survival.
As is well documented, COVID-19 is particularly dangerous for older adults, with seniors who test positive having a greater risk of death or hospitalization. With the stakes being so high, maintaining safe social distances has become mandatory for a population that is regularly reminded about the importance of social connections.
As noted in an article from The Globe and Mail, seniors have largely been divided on how to handle this outbreak as much as other groups, despite being at a higher risk. There are those who have prepared for quarantine and those who haven’t quite bothered to do much research yet on how to properly observe social distancing and isolation.
How to Maintain Social Distancing
The question of how to perform social distancing has been made easier by the fact that governments, be it municipal, state or federal, have essentially banned large gatherings and in some cases, closed down bars, restaurants, nightclubs and gyms. It’s getting harder to come into contact with other people than it is to be in close quarters.
But for seniors, maintaining a healthy social life is an important factor in avoiding depression, low self-esteem and a lethargic lifestyle that can have additional health consequences.
The key to successfully maintaining social distance is observing some common sense principles, such as avoiding handshakes, hugs and kisses. The World Health Organization recommends maintaining a distance of at least one meter between yourself and others, while some experts have recommended distances as far as six feet.
One of the biggest issues to understand in social distancing is that whether or not you are personally observing it, others definitely are and may see a lack of respect for healthy social distances as an insult. Given the lack of available testing at this time, it’s important to understand that people may avoid being near you for good reason. It’s not an insult or insinuation, it’s merely a best practice for the safety of you and them, as we don’t have a clear idea about the spread of the virus still.
Keeping Socially Active
Social distancing has led to not having places to congregate and be with friends. This may feel a bit oppressive to seniors used to regular meetups and activities shared with friends. But there are ways to bond through isolation courtesy of technology.
Facetime and Skype are likely to become seniors’ favorite applications for staying in touch, seeing friendly faces and being around loved ones.
Cell phones are already a great tool, but newer versions include built in games that can be played between friends and facilitate chats. It may not be the same as your weekly bridge game, but it can help keep a group of friends in touch while entertaining the mind a bit.