A well known spiritual leader in the Melbourne community shared a conversation with an elderly woman in his community. As someone who does not drive and has health issues, this woman shared that she often spends time alone at home.
However, with the current Covid-19 situation, and mandatory social isolation, people have been checking on her more than usual which makes her feel connected to the community.
Furthermore, many meaningful activities for seniors that she would normally be interested in participating in but would be unable to attend are now available online allowing her to attend a variety of programs, lectures and activities.
This is truly a benefit of the current situation. There are many more programs and activities now available online that can engage a wide variety of audiences including seniors.
Here are some examples of indoor activities for seniors to help keep them busy anytime, but especially during coronavirus when in-person visits and other social activities can be even more restrictive than usual.
For seniors who do not have large families or circles of friends who are able to contact them on a regular basis, there are opportunities to sign up as a pen-pal and receive letters from volunteers. These volunteer pen-pals from across Australia register to connect with seniors and create another form of social contact during the day.
The feedback from the initiative has been positive for both the younger pen-pal and the senior in the pair. The younger person can meaningfully contribute to their community as well as enjoy the opportunity to build a relationship with an isolated senior. Of course, the senior benefits through knowing that someone is thinking about and the joy that comes from receiving mail with a special message to them.
In the Disney movie Aladdin during the song A Whole New World, Aladdin famously begins by singing. “I can show you the world.” While it is difficult for anyone to travel the world right now, many museums and famous landmarks around the world are allowing you and your loved ones to visit them virtually from the comfort of your home.
For example, the Guggenheim Museum in New York has a google tour of the pieces of artwork in its famous museum.
How else can you enjoy the views from the top of the Taj Mahal in India, hike the famous Machu Picchu, and explore the old city of Jerusalem all within the span of a few hours?
If these are too difficult to navigate for your loved one, you can set up a Zoom call with screen share and tour these sites together.
While playing social games online is not a new trend, the closing of physical spaces such as bridge clubs and chess tournaments has led to a massive increase in people playing their favourite games online.
These social games can be a great opportunity for seniors to participate in allowing them to:
While understanding the technology might be difficult for some, having a friend or family member teach them how to use the software remotely using Zoom with screen sharing capabilities can help provide them with guidance on logging in and getting started while ensuring that the sound and images are legible and the sound audible.
Another option is to play solitaire or other individual games with giant low vision playing cards.
With exercise being one of the main reasons that Australians are allowed to leave the house, keeping as active as possible in whatever way is possible is important. If confined to their home, one way for seniors to stay active can be through watching exercise videos. Or, they can do basic exercises at home using fitness equipment such as exercise mats and resistance bands.
With much of religion revolving around communities gathering for prayer, ritual, and education, the current situation has definitely disrupted these usual activities and opportunities.
However, many religious organisations and spiritual communities have shifted their services to an online forum to allow people to participate in using their computers and phones. Eliminating the need for the more formal dress often required to participate, religious services can provide an opportunity for comfort, community, and hope during challenging times.
A couple of weeks ago, the ABC compiled a list of all of the religious institutions streaming Easter and Passover services live. Surely, many of them will continue streaming a variety of weekly and holiday services until gathering in person is allowed to resume.
This provides a meaningful activity for seniors to connect with and participate which can bring back positive memories from their childhood or provide them with a forum to engage in community.
It would be remiss to write an article about activities for the elderly in assisted living without including setting up Zoom video chats with family and friends (and especially grandchildren).
Scheduling these calls at the beginning of each week can:
If the senior has young grandchildren or great-grandchildren, have them prepare a special song, dance, or arts and crafts that they can show to their grandparent or great grandparent on the call. This will help maintain a special connection between the generations even if they cannot meet face to face.
In order to raise funds, encourage people to stay home, and bring a smile to our faces, many concerts and plays are being live-streamed and released for free during the pandemic. These are a great opportunity for indoor activities for seniors to bring live theatre to seniors’ living rooms in a way that is normally not accessible.
For example, each weekend, Andrew Lloyd Webber is releasing a live- stream of a broadway play on The Shows Must Go On YouTube channel. This past weekend The Phantom of the Opera was available and the week before footage of the live Jesus Christ Superstar was released for free. Stay tuned to discover which show will be available this week and in the coming weeks.
Similarly, many benefit concerts have been live-streamed from singers’ living rooms that are broadcast for Australian and sometimes even international audiences to watch. Most famously, the Together at Home series is a movement of citizens trying to eradicate extreme poverty in the next 10 years. They have created a virtual concert series in partnership with the World Health Organisation that is available on their YouTube Channel.
Being at home does not have to equal being bored, or socially disconnected. In fact, as demonstrated above, there are infinite numbers of online activities, most of which are available for free to keep people socially and mentally stimulated. Who knows, maybe some of them will even continue when the lockdown ends?