Lisa Conway, One Senior Place – Special to FLORIDA TODAY
This is a new Q&A feature provided by One Senior Place, a marketplace for resources and a provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families, located in Viera.
Q: I am going stir crazy. Are there safe ways for seniors to socialize and interact during COVID-19?
A: This is a great question and one we hear frequently.
More than eight months into the pandemic, most of the seniors we see are still trying to follow the CDC guidelines.
Unfortunately, many are also suffering from some degree of depression, anxiety and even “pandemic fatigue.”
Pandemic fatigue is the very real sense of exhaustion caused by coronavirus in our lives.
Pandemic fatigue often presents itself as feeling restless, irritable, lacking motivation and difficulty concentrating on tasks.
Some people may withdraw altogether, neglect their hygiene or manifest physical symptoms such as overeating or changes in sleep habits.
They may also choose to drown out the chorus of warnings and balk at following public health recommendations.
Sadly, the virus does not care. It continues its business of infecting as many people as possible.
So what can we do?
I recently read an article by Kaiser Health News about northern seniors who developed their own safety “bubbles or pods.”
To stave off the isolation of the coming winter, these small pods of well acquainted neighbors all agreed to take the same daily pandemic precautions.
With the knowledge that all were exercising the same degree of caution, they felt safe enough to socialize in person within their “bubble.”
Some bubbles choose to strictly socialize outdoors while others will attend dinners, game nights, etc… in the homes of included members.
Minnesota psychologists Leni de Mik and Brenda Hartman are bringing attention to “SILOS,” or “single individuals left out of social circles.”
The psychologists’ goal is to encourage those individuals without a social circle to reach out to others with similar interests and develop their own pod or bubble.
Many seniors who visit One Senior Place have family out of state.
While quite a few stay connected with family and friends by phone, social media or Zoom, most truly miss face-to-face interaction.
With the approach of the holidays, many seniors have expressed how much they would love to see their families, but they are not comfortable with travel during this pandemic.
Some also realize that younger family members may be taking only moderate precautions — or none at all.
Developing your own “pod or bubble” may not be the ideal solution, but it could provide some ability to resume and maintain human contact with people you care about.
Importantly though, everyone must agree to follow the same rules when they are apart.
If you would like more guidance about developing your own safety “bubble,” email AskOSP@OneSeniorPlace.com or call 321-751-6771.
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One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and a provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. To submit a question, send an email to askOSP@OneSeniorPlace.com or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging at OneSeniorPlace.com.
Lisa Conway is a Registered Nurse and a Certified Care Manager for Senior Partner Care Services in Viera.