Staying Connected with Seniors During COVID-19

As always, Chandler Hall is focused on the health and wellbeing of its residents. While information regarding COVID-19 continues to evolve, available medical evidence confirms that older people—adults 60 and older—are particularly vulnerable. People with preexisting medical conditions, such as heart disease, lung disease, diabetes or cancer are especially at risk. In compliance with state and CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) safety precautions, we have instituted a no visitors policy.

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Staying connected

No visit policies are necessary to keep us safe, but it’s important to stay connected to your loved ones. We’re social creatures who thrive when connected. Like everyone else, older people face loneliness, and research shows that loneliness and social isolation can damage our health. Research has linked social isolation and loneliness to higher risks for numerous physical and mental conditions: high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, a weakened immune system, anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease and even death.

During this time of stay-at-home directives and social distancing, we’re at risk to loneliness and feelings of isolation. Technology can help reduce feelings of loneliness and even improve health. When it is not possible to visit in person with those you love, use technology—by telephone, text, email or video calls—to stay connected. If you have loved ones at Chandler Hall, email jwelsh@ch.kendal.org to schedule time to Skype with family.

Seniors and technology

In January 2020, AARP reported that 81 percent of seniors, ages 60 to 69, have adopted the use of smartphones, and 62 percent of seniors 70 and older use smartphones. The survey also found that older Americans most often sign on to social networks on smartphones (55 percent), followed by computers (47 percent) and tablets (41 percent) to stay connected with friends and family.

Help older adults stay connected with technology 

As the survey conducted by AARP found, most older adults do own a smartphone or have a desktop or tablet. That means that even if they haven’t yet mastered how to watch something on YouTube or how to attend a senior fitness class, or even how to use Skype or Facetime, they do have a digital device that will enable them to do so once they know what’s available. Be aware however, that those who have older computers may not have speakers or cameras and may have outdated software.

Remember, that while using technology may be intuitive for many people, that wasn’t always the case. In the current environment, walking your loved one through the learning process will need to happen on the phone. It may take longer, and it will be hard, but the reward will be worth it when they finally connect. Technology can be an especially good tool for kids to bond with grandparents.

Keep in mind that as seniors become adept with online technology, they may also be more susceptible to scams and fake information. Make sure they are aware of the pitfalls and suggest that they check in with you or a trusted friend before making any online purchases to protect them.

For those who don’t have a smartphone or tablet, a landline remains a good way to stay connected. Family members can set up a schedule of who will call to ensure your loved one stays connected.

Chandler Hall’s commitment to provide a safe, caring and warm environment for your loved ones is steadfast. Find updates on our COVID-19/coronavirus precautions and know that we are doing everything we can to continue to keep everyone safe.