Even as COVID-19 restrictions loosen and things open up, our older loved ones remain vulnerable. Therefore, we need to proceed with an abundance of caution when it comes to their safety. Of course, we all want to get out and about and be active. Isolation and inactivity can be quite harmful to both mental and physical health. So, today we will share five more creative ways you can help your elderly parent stay active at home while quarantining.
Be sure to check our 10 Things to Do at Home During Coronavirus Isolation for ideas too!
Solicit Outside Help
If you’re worried that Mom is not getting out of her nightgown and sitting in front of the TV all day, it may be time to enlist some help. Mom may be depressed and lethargic without her normal routine and interactions. Consider hiring a professional caregiver as a companion to go in and help Mom build a routine and get some interaction. They can also be your eyes and ears to really know how Mom is doing. A companion can help you implement some of the ideas below, plus come up with all sorts of customized ideas to keep Mom engaged, healthy, and active at home.
We saw families find all kinds of creative ways to celebrate Mother’s Day from a distance. You can use these ideas for any celebration, even just a weekly get together. It can be fun to make it a routine and give it a special name or theme, like “Friday Family Funday” or “Mother-Daughter Happy Hour”. We have seen how much everyone looks forward to these kinds of events. They are essential to giving us hope and keeping us from feeling disconnected or apathetic.
Here are some ways you might celebrate a special occasion or create regular celebration rituals:
- Send Mom special deliveries. These might be small gifts you order online, handmade items, or a tasty treat. Many local restaurants, bakeries, and food services will deliver. Send Mom her favorite dessert from the spot where she had regular lunches. Or, order something really unique on a site like Goldbelly. For example, some families had a virtual Mother’s Day brunch together by ordering the bagels and lox brunch set delivered straight from a NY deli. You can also check directly with a family favorite to see if they can deliver even if not in Mom’s area. Many will do so.
- Consider sending letters or cards too. Of course, Mom will appreciate this for her birthday or a holiday. But, you don’t have to wait for an occasion. Take some time to write Mom a note to tell her how much you miss her or what she means to you. Get your kids to make a homemade card or drawing for Grandma. (These are fun to show her on a video call or through a window too, they can tell her the story behind it while showing the picture.)
- Set up a virtual gathering via videoconference. Invite different family members or friends. Setting up a regular “get together” builds a sense of routine and something to look forward to.
It isn’t too difficult to set up with tools like Zoom, Skype, Amazon Echo Show, or Facetime. Look at what technology Mom has first to determine what would be easiest. If Mom has a companion visiting, they can help set this up and walk her through it. Don’t forget you can always just do a phone call too. It is nice to be able to see each other, but if it becomes complicated, don’t worry about it. You can use tools like Skype to do a group call to Mom’s phone (you just need a subscription or small amount of credit, it is very affordable) or she can dial into a Zoom call.
The Great Outdoors
When weather permits, getting outside can be amazing for Mom’s mental and physical health. This might be something as simple as sitting out on the front porch with a cold beverage and a book every day. Or, perhaps doing a little work in the garden (being cognizant of safety). Encourage Mom to take a walk down the driveway or around the block, or further afield if she is able. Short breaks of outdoor activity are often best to get a quick boost of Vitamin D and fresh air without becoming overheated or worn out.
Some fun ideas to help Mom enjoy Mother Nature:
- A hummingbird feeder or bird feeder
- Kitchen herb garden, box planter, potted plants, or a container garden
- If Mom lives with you or has a companion who can take her on outings, take her on a drive along the beach or to any beautiful site. Depending on restrictions in your area, you may be able to walk in a local park or along the beach.
- Have a backyard picnic: dining alfresco makes the meal a little extra special. You don’t have to go anywhere beyond your backyard or porch to do this. Or, you can pack a meal or pick up something special and sit by the water eating in the car.
Active at Home: Get Physical
Physical exercise is a must at all ages. Sitting all day can have serious negative effects on health and mobility. Be sure Mom checks with her doctor before starting any new exercise routine, but here are a few ideas to explore. If she has a companion, you can enlist their help to be sure Mom gets some regular physical activity.
- Chair yoga or yoga designed for older adults
- Tai chi
- Create a simple, daily stretching routine. It is great to stretch in the morning and also get up a couple times during the day, walk around, and do your stretches.
- Household tasks also help keep you strong, just be sure you can do them safely.
- Walking is one of the best exercises for people of all ages. Do what you can. For example, walk to the mailbox or a couple houses over, a few times/day.
*TV stations like your local PBS station may also show exercise shows geared to older adults. Or, you can purchase videos or CDs, if Mom doesn’t have access to Youtube. You can also try do a little routine together via video call.
The Worldwide Web
So many arts and cultural institutions have developed virtual resources. For example, we recently gifted a relative with a virtual Vatican and Sistine Chapel tour. (They have virtual tours online free, but this one was “live” with a guide and Q&A.) Think about your Mom’s interests and search out what’s available. This is more of a passive activity, but it can help Mom stay connected to her favorite things and bring joy to her daily life. You could also “watch together” and discuss your thoughts. Even the act of sharing interesting things you find helps keep you and Mom connected.
Here are a few examples:
Streaming Live Concerts (there have been a number of these on TV too)
Virtual Museum Tours:
If Mom has a favorite museum, look it up. They very well may offer a virtual tour, lectures, or other online events.
Laughter is the best medicine, right?
So, why not seek out some comedy online? You can find a number of comedy specials on Netflix or neverending options on Youtube.
Late-night shows and stars are putting out all kinds of entertainment. One we highly recommend is John Krasinski’s SomeGoodNews.
On the more engaging spectrum, Mom might be able to participate in virtual book clubs, bible studies and other interactive events. The web can be a wonderful resource to stay active at home and keep connected.
Want to be sure Mom stays healthy and happy at home?
Download our free Wellness Check Questions and reach out to our team for help. We offer evaluation services, remote care management, in-home care and companion services customized to your family's needs.