Staying Connected Now

Tips in the time of COVID-19
by Keri Pollock, Director of Marketing & Communications, Aging Wisdom

The physical distancing, and even quarantine, that we need to practice at this time may come with a level of isolation. Researchers have found that isolation is worse for health than smoking and obesity, which means making an effort to connect with others at this time is particularly important for our health and well-being.

At Aging Wisdom, our work is centered on helping individuals and families navigate all aspects of growing older, including health and disability, housing, legal, financial, family, local resources, and through advocacy. Personal well-being is an essential component of each area. We understand the benefits of engagement, even at a distance, to health and well-being. Here are some ways we have found to make meaningful connections:

Staying Connected—at a distance

In a recent UW News article entitled Staying connected – at a distance, Jonathan Kanter, UW research associate professor of psychology and director of the Center for the Science of Social Connection shared that “Any connection is better than no connection.” He goes on to reflect, that “Now is the time to reach out and connect however you can. It may sound dramatic, but it really helps.”

Kanter and a colleague, Nicole McNichols, shared the following tips for staying connected – at a distance:

Stay active, or just get out in nature
Help someone else
Call or FaceTime friends and family
Stick to routines you enjoy
Avoid looking at the news all day
Keep a journal
Exercise self-compassion

Everything Old is New Again

Good old-fashioned phone calls. Hearing a familiar voice and engaging in conversation can add joy to a quiet day. If the technology is available, connecting through Zoom Conferencing, Skype or FaceTime can be great fun.

Snail Mail. Everyone loves to get personal mail. Handwritten letters, greeting cards and postcards are something tangible that recipients can enjoy again and again. Do this regularly. You might get some personal mail in return.

Conversation outdoors. Enjoy the fresh air. If your home has a porch or driveway, bring out a chair, chat with neighbors. It can do much to elevate mood. Do some walking if possible (don’t forget to wear a mask). In my neighborhood, we have socially distanced Happy Hours, bringing our own drinks, snacks, lawn chairs, and engaging in lively conversation.

Virtual Experiences

Can’t get outside? Bring the outdoors inside:

Washington State Park Foundation virtual tours and photo gallery, includes 360-degree views

Rick Steves’ Europe videos

National Geographic travel videos

The Arts. Thankful for all the arts, libraries and education organizations that make these resources possible:

Local library systems are offering virtual intergenerational arts activities and talks facilitated by Silver Kite Community Arts. CLICK HERE.

From the Frye Art Museum, enjoy these online experiences

The Ultimate Guide to Virtual Museum Resources, E-Learning, and Online Collections

Seattle Symphony performances on YouTube

Showing Kindness in the Time of Quarantine

Check in to see if groceries, a prepared or takeout meal can be dropped off at the doorway.

Offer to take trash or recycling to the curb on trash day. Drop mail off at the door. Do yardwork.

Run errands—are they running low on anything? Any prescriptions need to be picked up? Do they have pets? Might you offer to walk their dog on occasion?

Consider what you might need if you were quarantined: Books? Treats? Games? Puzzles? Music?

Keri Pollock directs marketing and communications for Aging Wisdom, a care management practice based in Seattle. She has worked in the field of aging for over 25 years. She serves on the Frye Art Museum’s Creative Aging Programs advisory committee as well as the Seattle Age Friendly Coalition.