Senior living communities are usually accompanied by multiple daily activities available for residents to participate in. This is an important part of any senior living community because it allows residents to connect with their peers while learning new skills, traveling locally, staying physically fit, and more. However, due to the pandemic and the high-risk factor of seniors contracting COVID-19, assisted living communities have had to put many activities on hold, including their residents’ ability to visit with their loved ones.
With communal activities no longer available, assisted living communities have had to get creative to keep residents connected and safe. Some of the activities below might help your assisted living community thrive during these difficult times:
Although seniors have to abide by the social distancing rules within their living communities, they can still participate in healthy group activities that will keep them connected to their neighbors. Some unique ways to keep seniors entertained might include:
movie nights: Schedule a movie night once a week and keep it communal by passing out individual popcorn cups and having residents with Netflix watch the same film from the comfort of their own apartments. Following this activity, they can discuss the movie with their peers over the phone or while socially distanced.
eversound: Bring people together while they are apart by investing in a wireless listening system for your assisted living community. It can connect users up to 300 feet apart through an ergonomically connected listening device and help seniors who are hard of hearing, hear better and clearer. This system can be used for group music listening activities or visitation with families.
arts and crafts: Although arts and crafts may be a solo activity, for the time being, it can keep residents connected by creating arts and crafts that they can gift to family or friends. Giving and receiving different crafts will lift spirits and generate positivity.
concerts: Socially distanced concerts can happen after all, at least in senior living communities. Play popular songs for seniors with open windows throughout the community. It will be sure to lift residents’ spirits!
exercise: Active seniors are likely missing their pre-COVID-19 aerobic classes or gym time. Try to accommodate them by doing hallway or front porch exercise programs. Also, try encouraging seniors to stretch or even create set times for a few residents to go outside while still maintaining social distancing protocols.
Although social distancing has become more and more challenging over the past 11 months, it’s important that you continue to think up creative ways to keep seniors engaged during COVID-19. Staying mentally and physically active will help them get through this difficult time more effectively.
Preparing solo activities for seniors is important as well because they’re at a higher risk of becoming depressed and lonely during this time. For many, being able to see their family and friends is a very important part of their day, but that has, unfortunately, been limited for the time being, so it’s time to focus on how to encourage solo self-care.
Also, there are great health benefits to remaining social as you age, such as a better immune system, mood, memory, reduced physical pain, and lower blood pressure. Staying socially active can stimulate the brain and help to improve one’s state of mind significantly. Studies have shown that increased depression in older adults can put them at a greater risk of developing dementia. Therefore, it is important that seniors remain mentally and physically active to make up for their lack of social interaction, and remain aware of their health care needs as they change during the COVID-19 outbreak.
playing games: Games have been proven to reduce the risk of dementia and improve cognitive function. Whether it is a video game, board game, or card game, mental stimulation can help improve memory and mood. Introduce residents to senior-friendly games online that they can play solo.
reading: This may be a less exciting and more obvious suggestion, but reading is a fantastic way to improve brain health. The Audible Mobile App allows avid readers to listen to audiobooks or podcasts, which can be a great alternative for seniors who don’t have the eyesight or attention spans for traditional reading.
protecting your eyes: It’s also important that seniors stay mindful of their health during quarantine. There are many apps available now that allow seniors to see to their health care needs from the safety of their own homes. The Warby Parker Mobile App allows users to shop for new eyeglasses, virtually try-on frames, and check their prescription lenses without having to physically go to their eye doctors office. Resources like this can help vulnerable seniors get the eye health support they need, while also eliminating the need for them to go to doctor’s offices and put themselves at further risk during these uncertain times.
volunteering: The pandemic has made many people want to make use of their time and give back to the community. Seniors can use their time to virtually volunteer for one of the many opportunities the Points of Light has set up, such as Be My Eyes, which connects blind and low-vision individuals with sighted volunteers from all over the world through a live video call. Seniors with good vision could help those without to complete daily tasks that their vision impairments make difficult. There are countless other volunteer opportunities available, so each person can find the right fit for them.
Although the social distancing rules were set into place for good reason, it can be very hard on many people, especially seniors who are not able to see their friends and family in their time of need. Creating new and fun ways to keep them connected to society, on-top of their health, and remaining positive should be the main goal of all assisted living communities.
Many assisted living facilities are limited on who can visit—if anyone at all. This leaves many seniors without their typical visits from their loved ones. Although it is a safety measure, those visits mean a lot to each resident. It’s important that they still communicate with loved ones even if it’s not in person. Some ways that seniors can still keep in touch with their families include:
writing letters: Many seniors are a part of the generation that once relied on snail mail as their main form of communication. Writing letters to their loved ones is a great way to boost their cognitive function, while also communicating with their family. They can share their stories and memories with their children and grandchildren, and look forward to hearing back from them.
learning your family history: An interesting task to take on during this time that many people are interested in but have put off for many years is to learn their family history. Encourage seniors to take some time to trace their family tree back. This is something cool that they can share with younger generations.
taking a virtual trip to the past: Seniors can use the power of the internet to travel back in time, down memory lane, to all of the places they visited and lived, who knows what they’ll remember after retracing their steps! Again, they can share this with the younger generations.
making sure to call: It seems like another obvious suggestion, but with all that is going on, both seniors and loved ones can often put off calling one another. Seniors should schedule a certain time each week to catch up with family members. This will be a bright spot in their week and allow them to have constant contact with the people they love most.
Making these adjustments to the way residents communicate with their loved ones will open up the opportunity for new conversations, which will keep them connected and make them feel more positive.
Assisted living communities have had their work cut out for them during this pandemic. Not only are they trying their hardest to keep residents physically safe, but they are also trying to keep them mentally strong. This can be difficult, but when accompanied by a little creativity, residents can still remain happy, healthy, and strong in new ways until the restrictions are lifted.
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