In the aftermath of the lockdown phase of the COVID pandemic, many recognized that the Coronavirus is not the only challenge to overcome. In a sense, loneliness is an unwelcome by-product of the many steps that we have had to take to help mitigate the spread of the virus. This is especially true for our most vulnerable population – our seniors.
Our seniors are still being asked to balance staying safe, using social distancing protocols and isolation, with their psychological need to stay engaged with their larger community, friends and families. To say that it’s a challenging balancing act is an understatement.
Yet what we do know is that when seniors stay engaged through interpersonal activities or regular contact with friends and family, they also do better physically as well as psychologically.
Social Isolation and Health
We know that even prior to the pandemic loneliness was a concern for seniors, leaving them at risk for depression and a variety of troubling behaviors such as excessive alcohol use and obesity. Negative life events, the loss of a partner and poor health can all take their toll. Couple that with the anxiety associated with pandemic protocols and feeling overwhelmed almost becomes an expectation. What’s more, these feelings can affect almost anybody, not only seniors.
Overcoming Feelings of Loneliness
The World Health Organization recommends the following advice for older adults and seniors:
- Keep in regular contact with loved ones, for example by telephone, e-mail, social media or video conference.
- Keep regular routines and schedules as much as possible for eating, sleeping, and activities you enjoy.
- Learn simple daily physical exercises to do at home when in quarantine so you can maintain mobility.
- Find out how to get practical help if needed, like calling a taxi, having food delivered or asking for medical care. Make sure you have a one-month supply or longer of your regular medicines. Ask family members, friends or neighbors for support, if needed.
Kennett Area Senior Center Approach
No matter who you are – the Kennett Area Senior Center is your touchstone to a variety of activities, community and helpful programs and advice.We see each senior as a whole person deserving of the kind of individualized attention that comes from truly caring about their well being. Every member of our community is valued, no matter where they are on their life’s journey, and we believe community is central to well-being.
Finding connection and engagement is an important part of KASC’s mission. Through our Silver Sneakers program, our members and guests discover new friends while maintaining a level of fitness that is appropriate for them.
And while the post lockdown world has us retooling our offerings, attendees will find connection to others at every turn. Whether participating in the Lunch Bunch, Bingo, trivia or a special event or lecture, maintaining a level of engagement is an important component to aging with happiness!
What the Experts Say
Recent news reports indicate that some version of covid may be with us for a while. The KASC staff follows all recommended covid protocols in order to keep our seniors safe. The experts also recognize that keeping our seniors stimulated is the other part of maintaining good health. That is why we are busy developing new programs as well as bringing back some of our old favorites, with an eye to building a community of friends.
Engagement and community does much to help relieve generalized feelings of anxiety. Yet as has been reported before, social isolation among seniors is not strictly a product of Covid-19. The pandemic has simply made it more apparent.
We know that holidays, birthdays, and other meaningful celebratory days can trigger feelings of sadness and loss of connections. It’s the superstars at KASC that help our seniors maintain positive attitudes and stay invested in living their best life.
Check out our latest calendar for a listing of events and activities designed to engage and delight!