Helpful Hints on Staying Connected, When We’re Told to Practice Social Distancing
If you remain diligent and follow the recommended guidelines to stay protected now and over the coming weeks, you will most certainly weather this storm, as we have weathered so many storms during our lives and times. Much the same as hospitals are cautiously being proactive with their preparations, you need to do the same. The precautions we should be following are in so many ways the same precautions we should follow in our normal daily activity.
- First of all, stay informed by listening to your favorite news broadcast on TV or radio, or the internet. But please do it in moderation because the glut of information can be overwhelming and cause you to panic unnecessarily.
- If you need additional up-to-date information, or are in doubt about whether the news is factual, contact your physician, your local hospital, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.govand/or 800.232.4636, and the two national resources, www.coronavirus.org for the latest on “Things You Should Know, and Things You Should Do” and www.coronavirus.gov.
- If you feel like you’re becoming ill, with a fever or respiratory symptoms, contact your family doctor and get tested.
- Keep your home and surroundings clean using good ol’ hot water and cleanser, or disinfectant wipes. Refer to several of our previous blogs on helpful hints to stay clean and healthy.
- Hand Hygiene: wash your hands thoroughly several times during the day, even if you don’t leave the house, but especially if you leave the house.
- Reduce your exposure by practicing ‘social distancing’ and staying away from anyone who might be infected. Avoid crowds and limit your time in public by consolidating trips to the grocery, pharmacy, and getting other supplies.
We’ve been told by countless sources that, as boomers and seniors, we are the most vulnerable due to age and other related immune deficient maladies that we might have, compounding our susceptibility to COVID-19. With that information, we’re also being told as just mentioned to shelter and isolate as much as possible. Keeping your distance from others at this time is an excellent way to protect your health and wellness.
However, along with social distancing comes social isolation. There is no question that social engagement is a recommended way of life for most boomers and seniors to remain balanced mentally and physically. Physician practices and medical institutions promote all kinds of interactive connections for seniors in addition to offerings by churches, community sponsored events, clubhouse activities, organized travel, etc. You get the point. But now, the times have changed, and we have to alter our behavior, much to the detriment of our emotional stability.
So what do we do? Well, we don’t crawl in the hole and cover it up. We find new ways to balance our health and mental well-being.
- Create your grocery list while embracing a new diet. It’s a great time to get on that diet that was part of your New Year’s resolutions that you just didn’t get around to. Make it fun, because it can be. Read up on some of the new diets and try them out. You definitely don’t want to pack on the pounds during this time. We all know how hard it is to shed them.
- Get techy. Learn how to connect with family and friends using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Zoom and a myriad of other social media sources. If you’re hesitant like me, go to YouTube and do a search: type in Facebook for Dummies and the world will appear to you in a very easy to understand video. In fact, one of my computer buddies, who is very tech savvy, uses YouTube for everything educational and informative.
- Your neighbors are a great source for conversation and connection. Afterall, they are going through the same pain you are. You might want to meet in the front yard or across the driveway and talk about all the latest.
- Offer to pick up groceries or other supplies for one or more of your neighbors, then drop them off at their front door with a note of kindness.
- Oh no. Your favorite restaurant is closed. What now. Well, order online or over the phone and pick up your food, or drive through if they have that service. I went through my first Panda Express drive through the other day and it was wonderful. It was easy, I was still able to practice social distancing, and I picked up an extra plate for a neighborhood friend. How gratifying.
- Get up and stretch and do a few exercises, including walking or biking. There is nothing stopping you from connecting with mother nature and all her wonder. Like I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, my BoomerGuy and I have been practicing the Chinese art of tai chi. You can do it indoors or outdoors. It’s a great way to get limber and follow a worthwhile regime. It will make you feel good, and that’s what we’re all about here at BoomerGal.
- Remain connected to your community. Many organizations are now offering all kinds of creative ways to stay in touch right from your home. They’re called buddy systems that help the more vulnerable and hard-to-reach people stay connected.
- Stay informed, but with caution. Don’t overdo it on the news, instead, practice a healthy dose of news diet. One physician recommends an update in the morning with your coffee, then again at night. Limit your news diet to 30-60 minutes a day.
- Start a hobby. Again, perhaps this was on your resolutions list, but go ahead and get involved. Log on to Amazon or eBay if you need to order supplies and have them drop shipped directly to your home. Another great way to shop is using Walmart pickup services—call in your order and pick it up at your local Walmart. Then compare notes with others who are doing the same or similar hobby or craft—what a great way to stay connected and share your pride of what you’ve done.
- Start a project. You’ve been wanting to clean out a cabinet, closet or garage, so do it. Then tell your friends how successful you were in accomplishing your goal, even though it might have taken you a few days longer to get through it than you originally thought. That’s often the case as we get older. Jump for joy! But not too high. Hah.
- And far from lastly, stay connected to your family. Reach out and share your stories and listen carefully to theirs, because they too have value. And love them remotely, and send pictures of your hobby, your project, or a selfie just to let them know you’re doing OK. If you haven’t connected with a family member for some period of time, bite the bullet and call them or send a text or email. You’d be surprised how delightful it will be to hear from them. But in the off chance you don’t, know in your heart you did the right thing.
Take it from this BoomerGal, social distancing in these highly uncertain times certainly does not mean social isolation. Stay sharp, stay aware and by all means stay connected.
“If you want to go fast – go alone! But if you want to go far – go together”
Editorial Contribution by The Conversation, Laurie Archbald-Pannone,
Associate Professor of Medicine and Geriatrics, University of Virginia