Seniors: How to Cope with Loneliness During the Coronavirus
Social distancing and staying at home can be trying for anyone. But for seniors who are now cut off from their families, this can be quite devastating. Maintaining social connection is a vital part of how seniors cope with day to day life. When added to the threat that the coronavirus poses, especially to seniors, addressing the loneliness become paramount. Understanding how to cope with loneliness during the coronavirus is key to boosting mental health.
For seniors who live in nursing homes or assisted living centers, the restrictions on visitation becomes an even greater burden. The federal government has issued rules that visitors should be limited to two per day, no children under 16, visits should take place outdoors if possible, and no “non-essential” visitors. The latter of course misinterprets that any person welcomed by anyone is “essential”. In large part because seniors are twice as likely to feel loneliness if they live inside a nursing home or assisted living center as compared to being at home.
How to Combat Feelings of Loneliness
There are ways to overcome the feelings of loneliness through simple therapies that can make all the difference. For seniors, such therapies include the following.
Reminiscence: Remembering the past through the use of picture books, newspaper clippings, and connecting online is a great way to overcome the feelings of being alone. For seniors, the memories they have developed over time can become a comfort when reinforced with reminiscence therapy.
Music: One of the most remarkable therapies being used in nursing homes and assisted living centers is music. Music provides a connection that helps even the loneliest of seniors feel better. Of course, listening to music is great for anyone who is feeling lonely, but for seniors it can make all the difference.
Intergenerational Meeting: Before the coronavirus, it was school children visiting nursing homes which provided the connection. Today, social media and live streaming can be used to do the same thing. While it does not have the personal connection of being in the same room with someone, it can help people feel connected even if it is with a viewscreen.
Befriending: A call from family or friends is a great way to break the feeling of isolation. In this day and age of social media, texting, and the old-fashioned phone call, the social support provided not only reduces loneliness, but engages the brain in ways that helps seniors feel better. Volunteers can call seniors and talk about different issues of interest that can help form new bonds during this trying time.
Understanding how to cope with loneliness during the coronavirus is not only important for seniors, but for everyone. Finding ways to connect will help stave off the feelings of being alone, which if left unchecked may lead to worse issues. Making productive use of your time, engaging with friends and family online, listening to music, and other activities can make a world of difference at a time when the world is isolating itself from the coronavirus.