Ways to Help Seniors in Quarantine When You Can't Visit

Published April 1, 2020
senior woman using a laptop at home

When individuals are in quarantine, they are not necessarily sick. They may have been exposed to or be vulnerable to disease, and quarantine is meant to stop the spread or keep them safe. Being quarantined can be difficult and lonely, especially for the elderly. However, even when you can't physically be with an older friend or loved one, there are ways you can help and cheer them up.

Keep in Touch With Quarantined Seniors Safely

If you have a friend or family member who's elderly, the best thing you can do for them is to make sure to teach them in advance how to be tech-savvy and stay connected with others online. Of course, there's always old-fashioned snail mail and the phone, but this is the 21st Century, so you'll want to be sure your senior friends and family members have a computer or tablet with a camera and mic, as well as some training and practice in how to use it. Doing this will ensure that you can safely stay in touch with a quarantined senior.

The Magic of the Internet

The computer has made 21st Century quarantine safer and more easily endured for seniors. A quarantined senior with a computer should know how to:

  • Instantly connect with with friends and family on sites such as Facebook or video chats via Skype, etc.
  • Use email
  • Join senior chat rooms
  • Browse the Internet
  • Play online games
  • Find and watch YouTubes that appeal to them
  • Download and watch movies
  • Listen to music
Happy senior woman listening to music with headphones

Communicating With Seniors in Quarantine

The most important thing to remember if an elderly friend or family member is quarantined is to stay in communication with them regularly to show that you care.

  • Give their day a bright beginning with an early morning encouragement phone call or email.
  • Snap pictures with your smartphone as you go about your day and email them to your quarantined friend.
  • Arrange to have lunch delivered to their doorstep by Meals on Wheels, whose driver will also report any problems.
  • Call, Skype, or email them in the evening to see how their day went and to tell them goodnight.

Helping Quarantined Seniors With Daily Life

Whether a senior is quarantined at home or in a hospital there are many everyday tasks that friends and family can do to help out.

  • Gather mail or newspaper and leave it on the doorstep or take it to the hospital for the staff to give them.
  • Mow their lawn, tend to their yard, and water their flowers.
  • Volunteer to go to the grocery store or pharmacy.

Fun Ideas for Entertaining a Senior in Quarantine

You must not only maintain regular contact with a senior friend or family member when they're quarantined; you'll need to provide some fun social interaction.

Virtually Gather Friends and Family Together

Gather family and friends together for a virtual sing-a-long on Skype or Zoom. If your elderly friend or family member lives nearby, visit their home and serenade them through the window.

Plan Virtual Dinners Together

Arrange for the entire family to meet online for dinners. Setting up a Zoom meeting, putting your computers on the table, and turning on the camera and mic works remarkably well for bringing a senior together with their family.

Plan a Movie Night

Send an email recommending a film you can both watch online and then Skye them after to discuss and review the movie. Better yet, plan a "Netflix Party," which will allow you to sync computers and watch movies and TV together. Netflix even includes a chat feature that will enable you to share your thoughts and chat in real-time about the film with your shut-in senior.

Have an Evening Story or Game Time

Get your kids involved. Have them FaceTime or Skype in the evening to either play a game or read a story to them, or ask the senior to read a story to the kids. Also ask the elder to tell stories about their lives to the children.

Cheerful grandmother talking with relatives via laptop onlin

Create a Fun Care Package

Surprise the senior with a fun care package that contains a s book of crossword puzzles, a deck playing cards, magazines, pre-packaged snacks, etc. as well as a personally signed "Thinking of You" card and leave it their doorstep.

Circle of Friends Email

Chose a few people your quarantined senior often socialized with and set up a Merry-Go-Round email that leads back to you. Each friend is assigned one person to who to forward the email. Each friend answers by writing a bit about what's on their mind and forwards the email to their one assigned friend. That friend then does the same. When the email has made its way around the circle of friends and comes back to you, add your bit and forward it once again to the quarantined senior. Once the senior has read what friends have written, they added something new and pass the email on to continue its one by one round about.

Seniors Quarantined in Nursing Homes or Hospital

If a senior is quarantined in a hospital due to illness or with other seniors in an assisted living facility or nursing home due to a health crisis such as SARS or coronavirus, it doesn't mean they can't communicate with friends and family. They can still use FaceTime, Skype, or Zoom to meet up with family and friends inline. Of course, you might have to provide the electronic devices for the quarantined senior to use. But if that's not possible, you could always the old-fashioned telephone call as well as sending fun care packages, postcards, and letters.

Senior male talking on smartphone while seated at table

Every Senior Is Different

The reasons for a senior to be quarantined vary, and every senior is different. If a senior is naturally quiet, reserved, or self-soothing, they can deal with isolation better than an older person who is more active, gregarious, and social. However, regardless of the senior's personality, it's essential to stay in contact with them and add some fun diversions to their day. Keep in mind that when a senior senses love, joy, and caring, they also experience well-being.

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Ways to Help Seniors in Quarantine When You Can't Visit