Millions of people worldwide have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus that appeared in late 2019. Over 150,000 have lost their lives, and new cases are appearing daily.
Seniors, age 60 and older, are among those at greatest risk, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC urges older folks to stay home as much as possible, wash hands frequently and take other protective measures.
In response to these guidelines, The Terrace Retirement Community has advised all residents to stay in their apartments. No visitors are permitted except for caregivers providing medical assistance, and meals are being delivered to residents’ apartments.
Although social distancing is necessary to stop the spread of COVID-19, it also presents challenges of its own. Here are three excellent ways seniors can remain active, healthy and engaged during this time.
1. Socialize & Stay Connected
Social interaction helps to maintain cognitive functioning and good mental health in seniors. The National Institute on Aging links isolation to a number of health risks for older adults, including high blood pressure, heart disease, depression and dementia.
When you can’t be together in person, use technology to stay in touch with family, friends, your faith community and others you care about.
Video messaging apps offer seniors a simple way to see a friendly face at the tap of a button. Skype, Zoom, Facebook Messenger and Google Hangouts are easy to access from your smartphone or computer. Some grandparents have even discovered the joy of reading stories to their grandchildren online!
You can also exchange birthday cards, gifts and other tangible items with those you love through the postal service.
2. Nourish Your Mind
Older adults may actually improve their short-term memory when learning new skills, like how to speak a new language or play music.
And with so much extra time at home these days, taking an online course or starting a new hobby is a great way to keep your mind active.
Cognitive Activities for Seniors
Other great activities for keeping your mind active include:
- Completing puzzles
- Playing online games such as chess can also be a fun and intellectually stimulating way to connect with others.
3. Get Outside & Exercise
The National Council on Aging calls for older adults to stay physically active during social distancing. The Terrace likewise encourages all residents to get outside in the fresh air while maintaining 6 feet of separation.
Regular exercise offers various benefits to seniors. It gives you more energy, elevates your mood, reduces depression and improves cognitive functioning. Exercise also helps to build your physical fitness, which reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis, and helps with self–care if you already have a chronic condition.
Basic Physical Exercises for Seniors
Here are four basic types of exercise and physical activity to include in your routine:
- Endurance exercise is good for your heart, lungs and circulatory system. Examples include walking, jogging, dancing, biking or climbing stairs. Doing light housework also counts!
- Resistance exercise strengthens your muscles. Great options include small hand weights or resistance bands. You can also use your own body weight for things like push-ups against the wall.
- For balance, try standing on one foot while holding on to a sturdy chair or countertop. Other options include heel-to-toe walking or senior yoga videos on YouTube.
- Flexibility helps you preserve a good range of motion. After warming up with a few minutes of light physical movement, gently stretch your arms and legs while slowly breathing in and out.
Check with your doctor if you’re new to exercise, especially if you have pre-existing health concerns. Start slowly and build up gradually. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes with good foot support. Begin each exercise session with a warmup and finish with a cool down.
Never exercise if you are sick or feeling unwell. Stop if you are uncomfortable, and notify your doctor if you experience chest pain, difficulty breathing, dizziness or other troubling symptoms.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all of our lives in different ways. The good news is there are many ways to stay active and engaged even while protecting yourself from exposure to the virus.
If you want to learn more about how we are helping our residents at The Terrace Retirement Community, please call us at 573-875-2538 or reach out to us online.