How the Elderly Can Keep Active and Social Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic
While it’s critically important for senior citizens and immunocompromised adults to isolate themselves at this time, complete isolation can wind up being harmful to their overall mental and physical health.
Everyone needs socialization and physical activity of some sort, especially the elderly. The elderly — who are at a higher risk of complications from COVID-19 — are more likely to restrict their physical and social activities to reduce their chances of contracting the disease.
Rest assured that there are safe ways to still have fun, try new activities, and engage with others without risking the chance of contracting COVID-19. Below, we’ve highlighted five social distancing activities seniors and older adults can try, plus a few safety tips to stay healthy!
Did you know that gardening can decrease dementia risk by 36%? Researchers tracked a large group of 60-year-olds for 16 years and concluded that gardening could reduce the risk of dementia in future years.
And that’s not the only health benefit of gardening; it also increases your calcium levels through exposure to vitamin D and can even help combat loneliness, according to the AARP. From pulling weeds to reaching, twisting, and bending for specific plants, gardening is also a great form of aerobic exercise.
Plus, this is an activity seniors can participate in whether they live in their own home or a shared apartment community. Seniors can ask the staff or property manager if they can access or start a community garden on the grounds. Just make sure to social distance six-feet-apart from other residents who choose to garden as well!
For older seniors who may not be mobile enough to dig in the dirt, they can still reap the benefits of gardening by potting small herbs or plants indoors or even decorating a patio or enclosed porch.
Not sure what flowers will work best? Here is a list of the 30 best fall flowers to get started!
2. Low-Impact Exercising (Virtually or Outdoors)
It’s no secret that exercising regularly is critical to our health. That being said, it’s become an increasingly big challenge to work out with necessary social distancing measures in place, especially for the elderly who require low-impact exercises. However, there are several easy, joint-friendly workouts you can try right from your backyard or living room.
Inactive individuals have a greater risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and weight gain — all of which can contribute to joint pain. Low-impact exercises place significantly less stress on your joints and can be an effective way to workout for those who can’t partake in higher intensity sweat sessions. This exercise allows individuals to partake in cardiovascular exercise without putting a lot of weight on their knees, ankles, or elbows, and without stressing their hips or shoulders.
Here are a few joint-friendly exercises to try while social distancing:
- Water Aerobics (If you have your own pool.)
- Bicycle Kicks
- Imitating the Motion of Jumping Rope
3. Virtual Game Night & Community Competitions
Whether you arrange a family game night via video chat or partake in a friendly competition with neighbors, there are many creative social distancing activities you can try while keeping your distance.
For example, Riverstone Retirement Resort in Kansas City, Mo., arranged a friendly competition of remote-control car racing. Residents each raced their car down communal hallways and were able to cheer for their favorites and chat with their neighbors while still remaining six feet apart.
What are some other virtual games you can try with family and friends? Here are a few of our favorites:
- The Price Is Right
- Family Feud
Looking for some online games you can play on your own while boosting your memory? Here are the AARP’s recommended brain game apps to try.
4. Knitting or Crocheting
Learning a new skill like knitting or crocheting can also boost your memory and positively affect your brain health. Additional benefits of these social distancing activities include lower heart rate and blood pressure as well as a decrease in the stress hormone cortisol.
Not to mention it’s an easy activity to do on your own while occupying your mind and time. You can even start a knitting group with friends or neighbors and sit in a socially distant circle or share your creations via a video chat.
Here are a few free knitting patterns to get you started!
Similar to knitting and crocheting, painting also boasts a wide range of health benefits. Painting requires concentration and sometimes problem-solving skills, two components of positive brain health. It also enhances motor skills; handling a paintbrush increases mobility in the fingers and hands, creating mental shortcuts that the brain implements in everyday life.
Whether you choose to grab a canvas and paint on your own or join an online art class with your friends and neighbors, painting is a great way to be creative and have fun.
Not sure what to paint? Here are 60 creative ideas that will help inspire you.
Social Distancing Activities to Engage Your Mind and Body
No matter what social distancing activities you or your loved one decides to try, the important thing is to have fun, be safe, and do your best to engage your mind and body to promote your health.