Helping Seniors Stay Engaged During COVID-19

The impact of COVID-19 has been felt worldwide, from children staying home from school to small business owners forced to stop operations. In an effort to protect the most vulnerable populations, including senior communities, a self-quarantine has been highly recommended in many places and even mandated in several cities in the United States. While quarantining senior citizens mitigates their risk of contracting this complex virus, it also puts many older adults at risk of isolation and depression. Retirement communities and nursing homes have been taking on the task of engaging residents without gathering in groups, keeping physical contact extremely limited. With the help of new technologies and innovative developments, seniors have been able to learn, socialize, and stimulate their minds from the comfort and safety of their own homes. Maplewood Senior Living has compiled a list of virtual experiences, tours, performances, and online learning platforms to help residents mitigate risks of social isolation and help families feel more at ease during this time of social distancing and quarantine.

Entertainment
In light of the coronavirus, many organizations including NPR, art galleries, and museums have provided virtual experiences that are entertaining and educational.

Concerts
NPR has compiled an impressive list of live virtual concerts organized by genre and performance date. There are programs scheduled through mid April and its archives are available to stream at any time. While some of the performances require registration and fee, many of them are free to the public. From opera and classical to rock and metal, this list has something for all to enjoy. You can access the entire concert calendar here.

Many symphonies are offering their performance free to stream on your computer or phone. The Vancouver Symphony live streamed their final performance and made it available for public viewing. The Royal Opera House has made some their best performances available to view from the comfort of your own home. In addition to their opera performances, you can also watch some of their most popular ballet programs. The Vienna State Opera and Metropolitan Opera of New York City are also available to stream.

Virtual Tours
Take a trip to Vatican City and explore the wonders of the Sistine Chapel. Be sure to use the zoom option to get a good look at all of the intricate details. In addition, you can browse the other museums and special exhibits. After you’ve finished in Vatican City, you’ll land in Indonesia to visit Prambanan, the area’s largest temple complex located northeast of Yogyakarta, Indonesia. The Whitehouse in Washington D.C. and the Palace of Versailles also have virtual tours available.

Plays and Musicals
When Broadway turned dark, after mandates to close, it didn’t close doors on its creativity. Broadway HD allows patrons to watch recorded performances. While the first week is free, they do require a small monthly fee to access their programs. The New York Times recently published an article highlighting the newest plays and musicals available for streaming from some of the greatest production theaters of all time.

Exercise and Wellness
Many seniors stay active by making a daily trip to their local recreation center or silver sneakers class. With the closure of these facilities around the nation, exercise must be done from the home. However, exercising from home is easier than ever before. The National Institute on Aging runs Go4Life, a platform that offers online exercise classes specifically for older adults. These exercise classes include chair workouts, stretches, and tips for stretching and building endurance.

While social distancing and self-quarantining can be physically challenging, it also has a profound effect on mental health. Staying isolated for long periods of time can cause depression or depression-like symptoms. Meditation apps, such as Calm, can help mitigate those feelings.

In addition to utilizing apps and websites for mental health, it’s important to check-in with yourself periodically. Here are a few tools to help you maintain your mental wellness:
Reaffirm your commitment to healthy habits- During this time of uncertainty, it can be tempting to reach for foods that are convenient but not healthy. However, it’s crucial to both your mental and physical wellbeing to nourish your body with food that will sustain you. Make sure to keep hydrated, limit sugar and fat, and eat well-balanced meals during the day.
Extend kindness– Being nice just makes you feel good! While you’re spending time alone, take the opportunity to think about those you care about. Decorate cards or make a video for your loved ones. Now is a great time to let your loved ones know how you feel.
Ask for support If you do start to feel lonely or isolated, do not hesitate to reach out. Call your counselor or family member and ask for help.
Stay connected– Many facilities have asked visitors not to come for an uncertain amount of time. But, this doesn’t mean you can’t visit with your family virtually! Apps like Skype, FaceTime, and WhatsApp will allow you to see your family members without putting yourself at risk of contracting the virus or other illnesses.

Learning and Stimulation
Now is the perfect time to learn something new! Coursera partners with some of the best universities and companies in the world, like Google, Stanford, and IBM, to offer free classes to lifelong learners. Coursera offers hundreds of free lectures from top professors at world-renowned universities. TED (Technology, Education, and Design) is an online platform that provides free lectures from industry leading professionals, activists, educators, and entertainers. Their archive is vastly diverse ranging from art and education, health and wellness, to environment and ecosystem. There is truly a program for everyone.

While this is certainly an unprecedented time for our nation and the world, it can also be a time for opportunity. At Maplewood Senior Living, we’re prepared to keep our residents active, safe, and healthy during this time of social distancing through by equipping them with online tools and resources. Be safe and enjoy exploring.

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