by Chris Franco, CSW, Director of Social Services
For many seniors who live alone, solitude is an unavoidable part of life. In healthy doses, time alone can be a good thing. We all need space away from other people!
Connections with others, however, are critical for all of us – physically, emotionally, cognitively and spiritually. I see it all the time here at the Home. New residents will move in and become visibly healthier and happier, in part because they are part of a loving community.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic showed us that isolation can become a challenge without warning. While the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) warns about the many health risks of social isolation for older adults, they also rightly recommend quarantines and social distancing to avoid the greater health risks of COVID-19. How should we handle all this time spent alone?
Here are four recommendations for adults of all ages:
- Write letters. For some older adults, letter-writing comes naturally. It is how they communicated when they were younger. Letters weren’t a placeholder for texting and emails, however. In many ways, they are superior to our modern communication. Writing letters creates space for cathartic reflection. Like a heart language, letter-writing helps us understand our emotions and work through them. And it can be a lot of fun. After all, in a day and age when so few letters are written, receiving a letter is a wonderful surprise!
- Stay in touch. Whether letters suit your style or not, more traditional means of communication are critical during times of isolation. Phone call, video calls, emails, texts – it doesn’t matter how you do it, it matters that you do it. Don’t wait for others to reach out to you. People are busy: kids, jobs, health scares and life during COVID-19 are frequent distractions for all of us. So take initiative! If you want friends, you have to be a friend.
- Stay busy. Find a new hobby or resurrect an old one. Read, sew, exercise…do anything you can to keep moving. Time spent alone can feel much longer than it is, so it is important to pass the time instead of dwelling on it. Remember, your time alone will pass. It’s not forever. Staying active will help it feel faster. But don’t do everything at once – leave things for each day, so that there’s always something to look ahead to.
- Stay connected with the outside world (but not too connected). It’s good to know what is going on in your community. But, too much media lays the weight of the world on our shoulders. Remember, it’s not your job to save the world. It is your job to make the most of YOUR world – staying healthy and loving your family and community.
Learn more about life in community at the Holland Christian Home! Call (973) 427-4087 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.