Caring for our senior family members during the coronavirus pandemic is essential. However, social distancing can put a damper on our ability to put their needs first without putting their health in jeopardy. Luckily, Senior Helpers, a premier provider of in-home senior care and companionship, has a list of ways you can help elderly loved ones maintain positive mental health during this pandemic.    

1. Go easy on the apps: Social media tends to come with a lot of distractions that often prove to be frustrating, so when it comes to staying connected with an elderly family member, keep it simple. HiLois is a private social network designed specifically for seniors that’s controlled by the family remotely, so there’s nothing extra for grandma and grandpa to do. The app allows a small group to share pictures and messages simply, with no extra noise or confusion.

John Skelton is a senior advisor of Senior Helpers of Tempe.

2. Teach them to navigate telehealth: Many doctors are now using telehealth to connect with their patients during this pandemic, but the technology shift isn’t something every aging adult is on board with. From virtual doctors to appointments, medical supplies and managing medications, a simple tutorial video can go a very long way before their first appointment. Contact the doctor’s office directly, find out which system they’ll be operating on and do a simple YouTube search for step by step instructions.

3. Check in daily :  Receiving a phone call check in each day, even if just for a few minutes, can make a big difference.  Seniors are at a higher risk to become lonely and isolated and scheduling a short time to touch base will help fight that isolation.

4. Boost their spirits: Putting a smile on your loved one’s face while social distancing is as easy as putting a stamp on a card with a handwritten note. Knowing that a surprise is on its way will most definitely give your senior something to look forward to.

5. Think outside the box: Drive-by parades are better than cake for no reason these days. Have the crew you’re quarantined with cut up some cardboard to make an awesome sign that shows love for your senior. They’ll take pictures from their door, signal some air hugs and have a memory that will last far longer than this lockdown.

6. Send in reinforcements:   There is a wonderful support system of nurses, therapists, and caregivers who are able to come into seniors’ homes to help them stay safe and have their needs met during the pandemic.  Professionals who are doing home visits should be using PPE to protect themselves and the senior during their visit and having regular check ins by medical professionals and support services can prevent an unsafe occurrence that could result in a hospitalization.

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John Skelton is a senior advisor of Senior Helpers of Tempe.