Low-tech Ways for Older Adults to Stay Connected During COVID-19

Guest Contributors Kay Vanags and Emily Winker

Finding ways to stay connected during COVID-19 can be a challenge. Despite 90% of individuals between ages 65-69 and 44% of individuals age 80+ using the internet (Anderson & Perrin, 2017), connectivity can still be lacking in places like rural Iowa. Many of the ways older adults are encouraged to stay connected with family, friends, and the community can be considered “high tech” and may not be available or user-friendly for many older adults. For older adults to stay connected without using technology, we offer these ideas to limit social isolation through “low-tech” ideas.

Isolated friends or family

If you know of a family member or friend who is isolated during COVID-19, try some of these ideas:

  • Eat together…but apart
    • Call a socially isolated family member or a friend and invite them to have dinner while talking on the phone. Using the “speakerphone” function on the cell phones can allow for conversation and dinner.
  • Window visits
    • Visit a socially isolated family member or friend and make eye-contact through the window while either talking on the phone or conversing through a screen.
  • Book club
    • Agree to read the same book and then discuss it via phone
  • Creative kids
    • Encourage younger family members or friends to write a story that can be mailed or read over the phone to the socially isolated family member or friend.
  • Send a care package
    • Be creative. Send items that are fun and/or functional to your socially isolated family member or friend. It is a great way to feel connected.

You are experiencing isolation

If you find yourself feeling isolated from others during COVID-19, and you are looking for ways to stay connected, try a few of the following.

  • Write letters
    • It may seem “old fashioned”, but your family will love hearing from you and seeing your handwritten message.
  • Call old friends and new acquaintances
    • Make telephone calls to your friends and family as a check-in. Brainstorm ideas of how you can support each other.
  • Give yourself a hug!
    • Seriously! Wrap your arms around your shoulders and give yourself a squeeze. You deserve a hug and the positive feelings hugs can give you. If you do, we bet you will catch yourself smiling.
  • Journal your thoughts
    • Write about your experiences to clear your mind and remove the stress of isolation.
  • Record your stories
    • Sharing your voice with family members or friends is a great way to express yourself and reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness.
  • Keep your routines
    • Maintaining consistency in your day-to-day activities provide security of routine and a daily plan to reduce stress.  
  • Breathe
    • Take a deep breath while counting to 3. Hold it. Then slowly release your breath while counting to 5. This is a form of relaxation and stress reduction.
Reference

Anderson, M., & Perrin, A. (2017). Tech adoption climbs among older adults. Pew Research Center accessed at https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2017/05/17/technology-use-among-seniors/.

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