Ways older adults can cope with COVID-19

05/27/2020
Older Adults Can Make Days Meaningful During COVID

By Kerry Mello, Community Health Improvement

Seniors are more at risk for COVID and are wise to stay at home as much as possible. But this can lead to isolation, boredom and feelings of depression and anxiety.

Here are some tips to fill empty hours with meaning and satisfaction:

Get help. If your or someone you know needs support to stay at home safely, please contact CHA PACE.

Maintain Routine: Our mental health professionals tell us it’s important to create and stick to our routines. Good sleep patterns like going to bed at the same time every day. Showering, dressing, wearing jewelry, all give you a boost that you won’t get from staying in pajamas all day.

Be Mindful: Take a few minutes every day to meditate or do guided mindfulness practices. CHA’s Center for Mindfulness and Compassion is offering free mindfulness support during the pandemic. This is good for your spirit and your mental and physical health.

Keep Moving: Regular exercise always helps, no matter your age. CHA has daily, online yoga classes for the community. The National Center on Healthy Physical Activity and Disability also has a great collection of exercise tips and videos for seniors of all abilities.

Try something new or something old that you haven’t done in awhile.

  • Lots of virtual games are available online. You can even have an online game date with friends.
  • Explore your creative side. Paint. Do crafts like knitting and sewing. Start a journal.
  • Do you have a musical instrument around the house? Pick it up and check out free lessons from sites like the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Or listen to virtual concerts. According to John Hopkins Medicine, “if you want to keep your brain engaged throughout the aging process, listening to and playing music provides a total brain workout.”

Find or be a buddy. Listening and sharing regularly with others can help validate feelings and provide reassurance. Start a “check in” system with friends or family. Or, learn about local programs that help pair elders with each other and younger people for regular calls or virtual chats. These include Congregation Mishtan Telfia’s Silverlining Buddy system which pairs elders with college and high school students, or Boston’s Friendshipworks, whose mission is to reduce social isolation for older adults. If you feel you might be in a crisis, contact the Institute for Aging’s Friendship Line at 800-971-0016.

Lifelong Learning doesn’t have to stop just because you’re stuck at home. Senior Planet has an ever-changing array of learning opportunities including a hotline for seniors with technology questions. AARP’s online Learning Programs are also a great resource.

Volunteer. Many seniors fill meaningful time with volunteering. You can do it from home, and you can even do international volunteering through the United Nations Volunteers Program where there are thousands of postings. If you’re fluent in multiple languages, Translators Without Borders is always looking for assistance.

Cambridge Health Alliance

Contributed By: Cambridge Health Alliance

Cambridge Health Alliance is an academic community health care system committed to serving all members of our communities. We have expertise in primary care, mental health and substance abuse, and caring for diverse and complex populations. CHA patients receive high quality care in convenient neighborhood locations, and have seamless access to advanced care through CHA’s affiliation with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. With over 140,000 patients in Cambridge, Somerville Everett and Boston’s Metro North, CHA is working hard to offer the integrated services its communities need now, and in the future.