COVID-19 has upended how we interact. But older adults in the Parker Jewish Institute community are finding a new way to spend time with loved ones: online social networking.
The platform has become an essential way for this population to stay in touch with family and friends, and even the volunteers who lend a helping hand.
“Thanks to team members at Parker Jewish Institute, older adults can stay connected. FaceTime and Skype are useful tools for virtual visits. For many, it’s providing companionship during a time that would otherwise be very isolating,” said Parker President and CEO Michael N. Rosenblut. “Our team members are dedicated to caring for our community and to preventing people from feeling alone.”
That’s important, as loneliness can exacerbate existing illness or further compromise cognitive abilities and even lead to depression.
Parker on Madison Adult Social Day Care, whose center is temporarily closed to protect against coronavirus, and Parker’s volunteer arm, Willing Hearts, Helpful Hands, offer a number of ideas to help older adults navigate their time, whether they are aging in place, or in an assisted living or skilled nursing facility.
Stay in touch
Phone or text an older adult in your community, and let them know you are there to help. Maybe they want conversation. Or maybe they need help with a task. See how you can assist – maybe it’s making a phone call or sending an email on their behalf – without of course, putting yourself at risk.
Walk them through accessing technology
There are plenty of interesting streaming programs online and on television that are educational, entertaining or both. Walk them through how to access these programs that they might enjoy.
Online grocery delivery service may take several days to receive, depending on demand. Encourage older adults who live independently to order well before their supply runs low, or place the order for them. Explain how this method operates, and that the order will be delivered to their door, is paid for in advance, including a tip, so no cash has to exchange hands.
Send links to content that is easy to access, and explain by phone how to open. News articles, music on YouTube, or online classes –there’s no shortage of interesting material with which they can spend their time or explore new interests.
As always, protect yourself against the virus with proper hand washing, avoiding touching your face and social distancing. It’s a new way of living, but finding safe ways to connect can be a lifeline for the older adults in our lives.
—Submitted by Parker Jewish Institute