Life during a global pandemic has introduced us to challenges we never imagined facing. In addition, the pandemic has heightened the difficulties we already face day to day. Seniors have experienced an onslaught of frightening information, disrupted schedules, isolation, the threat of illness, and more. Those caring for older adults now carry extra concern for their clients and loved ones as they seek to provide care and interact meaningfully while also protecting them from illness.
Giving love from a safe distance is one of our pandemic challenges. While it’s always more satisfying to spend time with someone in person, there are ways to connect with older adults even if you can’t be with them. Whether you’re looking to give some extra encouragement to a friend, neighbor, client, family member, or even a stranger, here are some ideas to send love to seniors right now.
Write an Old-Fashioned Letter
People have been writing letters to one another for centuries. Modern advances in technology make talking to each other easier than ever before. Yet there’s something special about a hand-written letter. A letter carries the message that someone took the time to write it. And that’s a powerful word.
Make your note as long or as short as you’d like. If you enjoy doodling or drawing, consider including your illustrations. Share about your life and let your recipient know the ways you’re thinking about them and what your hopes and concerns are for them. You might include inspirational quotes, lines of poetry, or scripture verses. Have kids color pictures and sign their names. Whether you use a beautiful card, stationery, or just plain paper, your message of care and connection will get across.
If you really enjoy writing letters, you could look into forming a pen pal relationship with a senior who is living alone or in a residential community. Some care homes already facilitate pen pal relationships. If there’s a particular seniors’ community you’re interested in, reach out to see if they can connect you with one of their residents. In addition, groups like Love for The Elderly invite volunteers to write one-way, friendly letters to older adults across the United States.
Send a Care Package to Someone You Know
Gifts are fun to receive! Consider preparing a simple gift box and mailing it to an older adult that you’re unable to visit. You can include items that remind you of the person like photographs or souvenirs from shared memories. Personal care products like a new toothbrush or hand lotion also make great gifts. Or include something pampering like a bath bomb or specialty soap.
Toss in some interactive items like a puzzle, wordsearch, brainteasers, or a book of riddles and jokes. Nonperishable, prepackaged treats like gum or candy, a DVD of a movie or documentary, or something fun to wear like a bracelet, scarf, or sunglasses also make for a great care package.
If you’re short on time, businesses like Confetti Post specialize in creating cheerful, beautiful care packages that are ready to mail. Simply choose your favorite curated box online, and you’re all set. Whatever you decide to give, you will let your loved one know that you care for them and that they’re not alone in the world.
Find and Share Stories
One of the best ways we learn is from one another. When we share our stories, we connect with others over common experiences. Learning about how other older adults and their caregivers are handling the pandemic, both locally and globally, can give us new ideas, inspire creativity, and remind us that we share in both suffering and triumphs.
Call up people you know, caregivers and seniors alike. Ask how they are nurturing their social and emotional needs while prioritizing safety. Look up stories online. Read about what others are doing to combat isolation and live meaningfully during this restrictive time.
Reading about and listening to others may give you some fresh ideas about how to interact with your older loved ones. You may find that even amid restrictions, there are creative options available to connect with seniors and to allow them more social interaction.
Whether you’re allowed in the dining room of your parent’s care home or not, you can still plan to eat together regularly. Set up a repeating date and time to eat a meal together online if it isn’t possible to do so in person. You might choose Monday night dinner or Sunday brunch to be your special time. Prepare your meal, place a Zoom, Skype, or FaceTime call, and eat.
Food brings people together. Mealtimes alone can be especially painful for seniors. Eating with friends and family brings conversation and human connection. An online meal can’t replace quality time spent cooking and eating together. But it can serve as an important lifeline until you can be with one another in person again.
Care for the Caregivers
Caregivers need encouragement too. Many who care for the elderly are putting tremendous effort into their work while also making personal sacrifices. Navigating patient safety, outbreaks, and exposure to the coronavirus at work can put extra strain on workers in care facilities. Others who care for clients or loved ones in their homes may choose to limit their interactions with outside friends and extended family in order to protect the more vulnerable person in their care.
Sending encouragement to caregivers can brighten what might be a heavy, demanding day. Acknowledging caregivers, their work, and their sacrifices can let them know they are remembered and appreciated. And the benefits will spread. Encouraging caregivers and lightening their burdens will also benefit the seniors in their care.
Consider choosing a local long-term care home and bless the staff with a fun and encouraging gift. Take them dessert, a coffee and tea basket, or cheerful postcards with uplifting notes written on them. Whatever you choose to do, have fun and be creative! A kind gesture will go a long way to encourage those who are dedicated to caring for seniors during this pandemic. Now is the time to be generous with our love, effort, and applause.
The Cedars Retirement Community
The Cedars Retirement Community is a beautiful lakeside retirement residence located just outside of Fort Wayne, Indiana. The Cedars believes in providing the highest quality of life and opportunity for seniors. We are operating with great care during this pandemic and are following all guidelines issued by the CDC and ISDH. Please contact us with any questions you may have.