Keeping Older Relatives Engaged During COVID-19

In Jersey we are lucky enough that life has returned (relatively speaking) to “normal”.  Although, there are many elderly islanders who are still shielding out of necessity or by choice.  Sadly, this can become isolating and boring. However, here are some creative and effective ways in which family and friends can help keep their elderly relatives engaged and stimulated whilst they stay at home.

Plan drive-by greetings and road trips

If you are a Carer or close family member, take them for a drive through town or along some scenic routes. This gives them a chance to feel part of the community and recognise some familiar faces and places along the ways! You could also invite their friends to meet at a nearby parking lot to have a quick catch up through the window!

Schedule virtual time

Connect with family members as often as possible over the phone or as a group on Zoom. If your elderly family member does not have a smart phone but does have a Carer, see it the Carer can facilitate a FaceTime or Skype call.  If it’s an evening call there may even be time to read a book or a collection of poems or let your young children prepare a song for Granny and Grampa!

Encourage exercise regimes

Create a basic exercise routine with achievable goals. If the elderly relative does not use IT, they could use an armchair exercise DVD. If more of a “silver surfer”, they could download apps like Strava to motivate them to stick to their routines and share their goals with family and friends.

Indulge in old hobbies

Find out from your relative what their favourite hobbies used to be – when they had the time and opportunity to indulge in them. Be it painting or scrapbooking, they are finally in position to take it up again.  Send them supplies via online shopping and see if you can rekindle their interest.

Host virtual dinner dates

If they are still cooking for themselves, plan a menu for a couple nights during the week, where you both cook the same dishes. Take photos of each of your dishes to compare afterwards, and maybe even eat it together whilst connecting on Facetime or Zoom.

Watch a series together

As long as your elderly relative can use Sky, Netflix etc, there are hundreds of shows you can watch/re-watch “together” and then connect afterwards via phone or Zoom to share thoughts.

Providing companionship and entertainment has been made so much easier thanks to technology. Even if your elderly relative’s use of technology is limited to the telephone and TV, there are still ways to add another dimension to watching TV or having a ‘phone chat’ – and most importantly to make that elderly family member feel integrated and part of your day to day life.

Never has the saying “It’s the thought that counts” been truer than when someone is in enforced isolation.