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After all Florida school districts closed to help their communities contain COVID-19, Nora Quintin* felt isolated. The 84-year-old retired Spanish teacher, who volunteered four days a week for five hours a day in a Palm Beach County elementary school, could no longer meet with her students or chat with other teachers. And so, she stayed in bed, day after day.
When her isolation came dangerously close to causing her to fall into depression, her daughter quickly challenged her to create a series of Spanish lesson plans she could teach to her five-year-old twin great-grand daughters over the Google Duo app. Suddenly, Nora got a twinkle back in her eye and began to look forward to getting out of bed every day. Not only did she plan the lessons, but she looked forward to learning Google Duo, which allowed her to see her great-granddaughters every day.
Sadly, Nora is not alone. Because of COVID-19, the lives and daily activities of our senior population have dramatically changed. Most seniors spend a majority of their time close to home, having coffee and lunch with neighbors and enjoying visits from friends and family. And for those seniors who already struggle with isolation, not being able to socialize with one another, receive visits from loved ones, or partake in religious services is increasing their loneliness. In some cases, it’s even fueling their depression.
But it doesn’t have to be this way! We can help combat this issue by bridging the gap of isolation and making a happier setting for the elderly—for those loved ones who may be living with us and for those we know who live in their own homes. Here are just a few tips you can use or share to help stimulate the mental, physical, and emotional health of those elderly people in your life, while still maintaining social distance.
You can develop or borrow any of the strategies listed above for minimizing isolation—get creative! You can make a difference by bridging the isolation gap and playing a key role in fostering relationships between elders and our younger generation.
If you notice a senior showing warning signs of suicide, like overdose, self-starvation, self-dehydration, and “accidents,” call the Suicide Hotline at 800-273-8255 or call 911 in an emergency situation.
*This name was changed to protect the individual’s identity.