Over a million people in the U.S. live in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. With stay at home recommendations being implemented around the country, it is more important than ever that aging Americans maintain social connections, keep good health with exercise, manage medicine and persevere through this difficult time with high spirits.
“Studies show social isolation and loneliness are linked to higher risk of cardiovascular disease, anxiety, depression, and a variety of ailments,” says aging expert Lisa Cini. “During this unprecedented time, sheltering-in-place can provide an opportunity to stay connected with our older friends, neighbors and family through technology. Remember, we can help make our aging loved ones remain healthy, happy, and safe while practicing social distancing and quarantine.”
Lisa’s 10 tips for older adults during COVID-19 include:
- Coordinate daily check in times: a phone call or text, Skype, Facetime, Zoom, Loop, WhatsApp, & WeChat are all possibilities. A video call is best to see smiling faces and easier for those with hearing loss. Additionally, group texts are a great way to send funny pictures, videos, and continuous words of encouragement. One helpful device to stay connected is called Loop. The Loop is a portable screen that allows you to privately and securely send photos, videos and do live video chats with family and friends.
- Exercise: Wellness devices like Fitbit, Garmin, Apple watch, and Kardia are all great tools to get moving. Arranging 10-minute group exercises, ensures loved ones are moving and keeping the blood flowing which improves brain function, reduces depression and improves the immune system. Notifications can easily be sent to your phone will help you stop worrying and provide an opportunity to nudge them to get moving.
- Gaming: Words with Friends, Candy Crush, and Word Cross are as simple as tic-tac-toe or as interactive as building entire cities with Minecraft or experiencing a flight simulator. The internet allows us to create a watch party for favorite TV shows or movies and group texts, video chat or messages on Facebook. Video games not only help with eye hand coordination, memory and mind training but raise endorphin levels to keep the blood flowing and even create a more energized feeling.
- Facetime or Zoom Meals: Video chat during meals! Create a virtual “family dining” experience where everyone can share their day, laugh and reconnect. Send ingredients to a family recipe beforehand, and you can virtually cook “together.”
- Control moods: Hapbee is a wearable device and smartphone app that can make you feel happy, calm, sleepy, alert, focused, etc. with the click of a button. Also, the Human Charger introduces light therapy through ear buds to reach the photoreceptors of the brain, which can help those who may have the winter blues, sleep issues, or just want more energy and alertness.
- Get a care free companion pet: Hasbro Joy for All companion pets are designed to bring comfort, companionship and fun for older loved ones who may not be able to get out and walk, feed, or care for a real dog or cat. These pets deliver a soothing, joyful experience that inspires smiles, laughter and fond memories.
- Engage remote health monitoring devices: Livio AI hearing aid has fall detection and tracks body and brain health in 27 languages. Zibrio’s SmartScale measures movements that indicate risk of falling. MouthLab by Aidar Health monitors more than 10 medical parameters like temperature, respiratory rate, blood pressure, breathing patterns, heart rate, lung function, and more in 30-seconds. Essence Group Fall Detector Radar tracks a person’s position in the home, provide immediate detection of a fall, and effectively alerts healthcare providers. CarePredict assesses day to day movements including sleep, walking, eating, and more. The MedWand handheld device allows users to conduct remote office visits and uses real-time collection of vital sign readings, to accurately monitor medical conditions regardless of location. H2-BP is the world’s smallest and lightest wearable blood pressure monitor.
- Navigating the toilet paper shortage? Luxury Class A8 Serenity Bidet Toilet Seat: replaces your normal toilet seat by adding a bidet feature that both washes and blows you dry. Plus, it’s customizable, heated, gets you to the proper height, and includes both a splash guard and a nightlight.
- Keep the House Clean: With just the push of a button, iRobot Braava Jet 240 Robot Mop wet-and dry-mops your floors and is tiny enough to get under cabinets, beds, furniture and even around the toilet!
- Install an automatic stove shutoff device: Stove Safety from FireAvert provides peace of mind and protection when cooking is forgotten or left unattended. It’s an easy way to prevent a possible fire and save dinner, too.
“It’s time to help our loved ones learn to use technology to move from loneliness and fear to freedom during COVID-19 and beyond. While we navigate new social norms during COVID-19, don’t forget to look out for one another and set up the right technology for our aging loved ones, friends and family.” adds Cini.
Lisa Cini is an award-winning senior living designer, President / CEO of Mosaic Design Studio and author of BOOM: The Baby Boomers Guide to Leveraging Technology, so that you can Preserve Your Independent Lifestyle & Thrive, The Future is Here: Senior Living Re-imagined, and Hive, The Simple Guide to Multigenerational Living: How Our Family Makes it Work. Go to Lisamcini.com to sign up for her blog. If you want to find the best tech products that help seniors Embrace Aging and Live Independently, visit BestLivingTech.com.