If you have a senior citizen in your family who’s been isolated during the pandemic, you may have noticed some cognitive decline while they’ve been sheltering in place. This isolation can lead to cognitive loss, the inability to make new memories and the inability to recall words. To help your loved one stay healthier, consider the recommendations below.

Provide Socialization

Socialization doesn’t have to be in person. Encourage your loved one to email you daily, or set up a calling tree so your loved one has some phone contact each day. To stay connected, consider investing in a tablet that they can easily see, or help them change the settings on computer monitors for easy viewing.

While working on socialization, keep an ear out for other connections your loved one may be making. Scammers target the aged via telephone on a regular basis, and one of the reasons they’re successful is that older folks can be lonely. If your loved one has a new friend, find out more.

Work on New Skills

New skills can include a simple craft project that can be built from a kit, or a new card game. The process of building new skills means that your loved one has to build new neurological connections. The act of building these connections can go a long way toward keeping an aging brain as healthy as possible.

If you have a child who is terrific at technology, put them to work helping your loved one figure out tools like email, social media, skype and other methods of digital connection. Encourage both of them to switch places so your elderly loved one can teach your child some new skills as well. Your loved one and your child will have the time to build a great relationship and both may gain life skills.

Prevent Accidents

Use technology to protect your loved one from a serious fall. Invest in a medical alert tool that will give notification if your loved one should take a tumble so help can get there immediately.

Additionally, consider bringing in support such as in-home senior care. These professionals can provide companionship, do some light housework, and help with meal preparation. This assistance can be critical if your loved one has balance issues or if the laundry room is in the basement. It only takes one fall with a basket full of clothing to seriously change the future for your loved one.

Promote Exercise

Make it easy for your loved one to get some exercise each day. Help them set up a Silver Sneakers account at a local gym and find transportation if they no longer drive. They may not be completely happy with your assistance at first, but a gym membership can give your loved one

  • a structured schedule: they go to the gym in the morning, so they have to be up and ready when the driver gets there
  • socialization: they may join a gentle yoga class or a walking club
  • the energizing boost and stress reduction of exercise itself

Additionally, many gym memberships offer time with a trainer. If your loved one has structural issues, a qualified trainer can monitor their movements, help them correct any postural problems, and reduce their risk of injury.

Conclusion

Being isolated can leave your loved one in an echo chamber of sorts. They may watch their favorite old movies or view only one news program for hours each day. However, this echo chamber is extremely dangerous for anyone at risk of cognitive decline. To maintain a healthy brain, seniors need to stretch a bit. New stories, perspectives, and activities can help.

By Erica Buteau

Change Agent. Daydream Believer. Maker. Creative. Likes love, peace and Jeeping. Dislikes winter, paper cuts and war. She/Her/Hers.

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