Unprecedented. That’s the word being used for the current public health emergency surrounding COVID-19 and the coronavirus outbreak. Americans are being asked – and ordered – to alter their lifestyles by staying home, eliminating public activities, and practicing social distancing. This is especially important for our most vulnerable population, people over age 60, and those with underlying health issues.
Since this mandate includes the fastest growing demographic in America, it troubles me that so many aging adults will be homebound until the coronavirus is under control. That could be months, considering Florida reported 830 new coronavirus cases in a 24-hour period over the weekend.
Regardless of how long this pandemic grips our country, I know from experience that loneliness and social isolation often result in fear, anxiety, and depression among seniors. This not only impacts their mental health, but also physiological health.
These 12 free or low-cost activities for homebound seniors will help keep minds and bodies busy while minimizing boredom, depression, and anxiety. I have consolidated a few of the most popular options with links to the original sources to help spark the best ideas for your situation:
- Board and Card Games – Yahtzee, Scrabble, Solitaire, Concentration, and Trivial Pursuit are games that can be played alone, or virtually online. “A study published by Dr. Robert Wilson and a team at Rush University Medical Center, tracked almost 1,100 people with an average age of 80, for nearly five years, and found that playing trivia games and other forms of board games helped stave off mental decline by promoting activity changes in the temporal and hippocampus regions of the brain. These are areas where working memory functions,” according to Dana Hinders’ Trivia Games for the Elderly
- Puzzles – Puzzles are a great way to pass time, and studies have shown improvements in memory when seniors worked on puzzles for as little as 45 minutes a day, twice per week.
- Brain-Training Computer Games – “A study of 2,800 people over the age of 65, has found that those who did a type of brain-training intended to boost a person’s brain processing speed were 29% less likely to develop dementia over a ten-year period,” says Mallory Locklear, New Scientist.
- Memory Boxes – Memory boxes are a good way of stimulating and recalling favorite memories. Build a collection of old photos, items reminiscent of work or volunteering, and any objects that mean something and put them in the box to peruse when bored. If someone is especially agitated, looking at these objects may have a calming effect.
- Old movies – Many of us have old home videos or movies featuring family fun or our favorite performers. Furthermore, there are so many television channels and streaming platforms from which to choose, virtually any movie or classic TV show can be found and binged!
- Photos – Whether you have boxes of old photos or a SIM card full on your phone, now’s a great time to review them and place them in albums, or sort them into files on the computer. Most people forget about downloading their photos from their phones, so you’re likely to run across many special memories while you’re organizing snapshots.
- Books – Escape reality by diving into a novel. You probably have a small library from which to choose, so gather a few hardcovers or paperbacks and do some reading. If you have an e-reader, consider a new release. If you’re visually impaired, there are numerous selections of audiobooks that you can listen to and enjoy.
- Gardening – Seniors are allowed outdoors, as long as social distancing is practiced. Gardening is a fun activity that produces beautiful or delicious results! Additionally, “Gardening provides a change of scene and will also ensure you both get some fresh air and exercise. It may be a good idea for the person to have his or her own patch of garden to dig and plant in. Weeding, trimming lawn edges, sweeping paths, and general tidying in the garden can all be tasks many people with dementia can cope with,” Alzheimer Scotland
- Exercise – Chair exercises, walking, riding a stationary bike, yoga, dance, Tai Chi, and almost anything that gets the body moving, will help strengthen muscles and improve mood and mental acuity by increasing oxygen and blood flow to the brain.
- Crafts – Many people love to craft, and crafting can take many different forms. Knitting, needlepoint, painting, stenciling, stringing beads, arranging flowers, or making musical instruments are just a few examples of crafts suitable for seniors.
- Music – We all have our favorite tunes, musicians, bands, and genres of music. Turn on your iPod and crank up your playlist or ask Alexa to play your faves. For non-techies, turn the radio on, play a CD, a record album, or cassette tape while you’re relaxing, cleaning, playing games, or exercising. Music has a way of soothing the soul!
- Cook – If you enjoy cooking and baking, cook and bake! There are many Grandmas and Grandpas like mine who were, essentially, culinary geniuses back in the day. Preparing comfort foods that are healthy and nutritious, and baking a sweet treat to enjoy as dessert or a snack can do the mind and body good!
- Communicate – Reach out to family, friends, and neighbors to see how they’re doing during this crazy time. The recipient of a call, text, email, letter, or card will feel very special and it will be good emotional support for you both! Remember, if you don’t feel well or you have tested positive for coronavirus, do not lick envelopes! Please use self-adhesive types, apply tape or use a cotton swab or sponge to moisten the glue to avoid transferring germs of any kind. If you are tech-savvy, Facetime or Skype with family, friends, and neighbors.
I hope this provides a few fresh ideas to help seniors cope with being homebound during the coronavirus public health emergency.
At Home Helpers® Clearwater, we are like the millions of Americans closely monitoring the COVID-19 virus, and as caregivers, we are taking all precautions suggested by the CDC; following updates from the CDC, Home Care Association of America (HCAOA) and making our home caregivers' and clients' health our first priority.
We will remain open and ready to care for the most vulnerable population who are best-suited to stay in their homes. We believe that it is safer to have ONE caregiver visit and provide services, than to be exposed in a community/facility/hospital/rehab with hundreds of residents.
We will continue to monitor this rapidly-changing situation and provide updates via our Facebook page.
As always, Home Helpers of Clearwater employs professional caregivers who provide in-home care and assistance, including companion care, personal hygiene, light housework, and more. I gladly offer a FREE Consultation to assess your needs, or those of your senior loved one, and I match the perfect caregiver to help with activities of daily living, engage in meaningful conversation, and enhance their overall quality of life during this difficult time. Thank you for continuing to trust Home Helpers®, and we look forward to helping anyone who needs our assistance.
We, at Home Helpers® Clearwater, are honored to have received the Home Care Pulse – Best of Home Care® Provider of Choice Award for 2017, 2018, 2019 & 2020. We proudly serve male and female seniors in Clearwater, Dunedin, Palm Harbor, Safety Harbor, Tarpon Springs, Holiday, New Port Richey, Trinity, Port Richey, Hudson and surrounding areas. Home Helpers®…we are Making Life Easier℠
Trivia Games for the Elderly