March 16th, 2020 | COVID-19 Helpful Information
Let's agree that watching the stock market is not the best activity for anyone's mental health at the moment. At the same time, let's remind ourselves that this is a temporary situation. There are plenty of healthy pastimes and routines that can both protect your health and the health of your loved one and make staying at home a positive and fulfilling rather than an isolating experience. You may be carrying the answer around right in your pocket.
Introduce them to delivery and online services. Start with the life-essentials: food and pharmaceuticals. You may have already tried to convert a loved one who has resisted the use of smartphones and other digital tools, and who has managed to get along without them. This is different. We're not talking about programming the DVR. This is vital life-and-health management.
Easy does it. Don't buy them a computer and expect them to learn how to use it. You'll likely both be frustrated and disappointed. But you can convince them that your phone or (much easier to read) your smart tablet is nothing more than a digital menu of services that can come right to their door. They should, however, have a simplified smartphone designed especially for seniors. (And, stay away from websites and social media that will only make the anxiety worse.)
Grocery and medicine delivery. This is no longer a kid dropping off a box from the corner store. It's fully prepared gourmet meals, laundry services, beauty supplies, floral service and – this is a big one – personal shoppers who take fresh products from the shelves and prepare them for pickup or delivery. Go to your local large retail chain store's website and explore. Most pharmacies deliver to the door, except for controlled substances, medications that require refrigeration and those paid for by Medicare Part B. Consult your pharmacist.
Make it fun. You can make shopping for essentials fun and time-filling. Just get online and look for coupons for your favorite items together. Then, total up what you've saved, and be sure to include your gas and time. Again, the larger touch screen of an inexpensive smart tablet will make this easier and more enjoyable.
Accentuate the positive. The less time you spend running errands, the more time you have to spend with your loved one. That's an honest, legitimate reason to make slight changes in the way you're both used to doing things. Remember, you have to protect yourself and your family, too, and reducing your public contact is part of that.
Apps can help. Apps can no longer be dismissed as games. Most doctors' offices connect with their patients through apps like healow or online patient portals through their websites. These are critical shortcuts – the most direct line between your immediate health needs and your medical professional. They allow you to access your medical records, communicate with your doctor's staff, order refills of prescriptions and make appointments. The best approach is not, "I'm going to show you how to use this app," but "Here's how I get to my doctor and drugs without waiting."
Mind games, together. And, literally – yes – games can help. Minecraft may not be their thing. But games that exercise the mind, any cognitive or memory care specialist will tell you, are critical to building new neuropathways and retaining or even improving memory. Any puzzle they work in a book, they can find online. Play poker or chess with them. The old-fashioned way when you visit, and continue the game remotely.
Off the grid. Turn off the TV. Say what? Yes. Help a senior with digital devices to get the things you need, then unplug for a while. Go for a walk together – just not where you'll be in contact with others. Even 15 minutes of sunshine and fresh air in the backyard will clear the head and relieve the cabin fever. Help them to keep moving. Reorganize cabinets or closets. Get a jump on spring cleaning. Encourage them to write a few quick notes to friends and family to let them know how they're doing. This is a good time to catch up on the reading list. Just no visits to the library until health officials give the all-clear.
Use their experience. Remember, seniors have seen much more challenging times than this and can probably teach their younger loved ones a few tricks. Making the home the center of social actitivity and making the most of a budget are long-familiar, positive habits that many have always practiced.
And finally, nobody changes unless they have a good reason to. These disturbing times could be that reason, but you'll find that you've established some new routines that will improve their quality of life and yours. Look forward to it together.