Reducing the Effects of Social Isolation for Seniors

By Tracey Biggerstaff
Friday May 22, 2020
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As the Covid-19 pandemic stretches into its third month in Arizona and our safety measures for dining, activities and visits must continue, we have looked beyond addressing our residents’ basic physical needs like meals, medical care and activities of daily living.

Our Fellowship Square Historic Mesa senior residents, like most of us, are experiencing “cabin fever”.  Most of us can still get out and about for essential travel or simply go for a drive to see something besides the inside of our own home.  Unfortunately, many of our senior residents do not have this opportunity. 

While “cabin fever” is not a clinical diagnosis, the symptoms are real and can cause significant anxiety for seniors.  Some of the symptoms include boredom, loneliness, depression, difficulty concentrating, anxiety, restlessness, irritability or lack of patience, decreased motivation, frequent napping, even food cravings and poor nutrition.  

One of the best ways to reduce anxiety and depression is to focus on being grateful for the many things we still have and can do.  The benefits of an “attitude of gratitude” are many and scientifically proven. (link) https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/what-mentally-strong-people-dont-do/201504/7-scientifically-proven-benefits-gratitude

So what are some of the things that our residents still have or can do and can be grateful for?  Besides the things they have that address their basic needs, our staff are helping residents with activities like:

  • Video chatting with loved ones
  • Musical serenades from outside their apartments
  • Birthday recognition with cupcakes and balloon deliveries
  • Exercise class videos with Matt, our SeniorFit instructor on our internal TV channel
  • Bible study messages from our Chaplain Kurt on our internal TV channel
  • As a continuation of our painting class, assignments and photos of work are transferred via email with critiques and tips offered by the instructor.  See this month's pop art work by some of our very talented residents.
  • Phone calls every week from staff who are dedicated to making sure they are doing alright and have everything they need.  When there is concern, we do our best to address it whether that is finding them a favorite food treat or just lending a sympathetic ear. We even share corny little jokes and favorite scriptures to brighten their day.

What are some additional things that we encourage our residents (or senior family/friends) to do during this period of isolation?

  • Read the Bible and Pray
  • Take a walk if they are able and when it’s not too hot – (just wear a face covering and maintain social distance)
  • Use their resident directory to call a neighbor and chat.
  • Keep a journal.
  • Write meaningful letters and cards to family or friends.
  • Organize old family photos
  • Read or listen to audio books
  • Watch Youtube videos and learn a new craft or skill

Visit our blog again soon as we will be sharing what our staff and residents say they have been thankful for during this time.

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