Taking Care of an Elderly Parent at Home? 10 Things to Do During Coronavirus Social Isolation

We know many of you care for aging loved ones at home. Right now, the circumstances may be quite different as you and your loved one socially isolate to stay safe from the coronavirus. Perhaps you are working at home, or even have kids home from school, in addition to your normal caregiving responsibilities. You might normally go out to run errands, take your loved one to doctor and other appointments. When practicing social distancing, your routine suddenly changes. Additionally, resources you may count on like senior centers and adult day care may be closed. So, our experts wanted to share some advice on things to do during coronavirus social isolation (or anytime really!) with Mom or Dad.

Respite Care Services: Help for Caregivers at Home During Coronavirus and Anytime

We also want you to know that we are here to help. Our respite care services can be an ideal resource at this time. If you are trying to balance caregiving and other duties, a caregiver can provide some relief and assistance in the home. If you have conference calls or important remote work meetings, we can arrange a caregiver to handle things with your loved one. Our respite caregivers can assist with light housekeeping, meal preparation, and other household errands. And, we can do personal care for your loved one as well as enrichment activities and companionship.This can give you a break, help keep a routine going, and make it easier to manage everything in the stress of this ever-changing situation.

Read more about our respite care services and contact us for more information.

Download our free Respite Care Checklist to make sure you have a successful respite care experience. Know what to ask, how to choose the right respite care, and how to prepare.

Caregiver Tips: 10 Things to Do During Coronavirus Social Isolation with Your Loved One at Home

1. Memory Lane

Take some time to talk about favorite memories. Perhaps go through old photos. This can be a great time to organize photo albums, scan them to store online if they aren’t, or review what’s stored online and better organize them. It can also be a good opportunity to share them with other family members. Everyone needs a little something positive and some connection right now. You can start a family chat where you share favorite memories and photos. Break out those funny family stories. Ask your parent about their childhood and experiences you might not know much about.

A few questions we recommend:

  • What’s been the most challenging time in your life and how did you get through it?
  • What’s your favorite memory of me as a child?
  • Tell me about meeting Mom/Dad.
  • What has been the most significant historical event in your life and what do you think we could learn from it today?
  • Tell me about the work you did (or what it was like raising us when you did). What advice do you have for me when it comes to work or parenting?
  • Ask about specific experiences you have not talked a lot about (events you know they experienced or things you’ve always wondered about). Talk about certain periods of history they lived through and what their memories are of that time.

2. Cooking/Baking Time

Ask Mom to help you learn a favorite family recipe or make Dad’s favorite dinner. Bake your favorite treats together. Plan and cook meals. This is the perfect time for families to reconnect with cooking at home and it is a wonderful activity to bring you together. Even if your parent can’t stand and prepare food for long periods, you can discuss and plan recipes or get them to sit and chat with you while you prepare the meal. All around the world, people are taking more time to cook, bake, make homemade treats…it’s healthy and enjoyable.

3. Get Moving

You aren’t alone if you’re turning to comfort foods and snacking a lot when stressed or bored. And, with little outside activity most of us are seeing our step counts dropping drastically. Of course, some physical activity is important to keep healthy…for us and our parents. But, how can you get your exercise in quarantine? If the weather permits and you have space to stay away from others, a nice walk outside might be perfect. Or, go outside and do some stretching in the backyard. Otherwise, check out the plethora of Youtube fitness videos.

Here are some simple exercises that are good for balance.We also shared some exercises here from the Sit and Be Fit program with Mary Ann Wilson on PBS. Check your TV stations for various exercise programs as well. Be sure to check with your loved one’s doctor before starting any exercise program and remember a little goes a long way. In times when you’re more sedentary, take a few regular breaks to move about a bit.

4. Learn Something New

Have you had the goal of learning a new language but never gotten around to it? Or, is there a hobby or creative endeavor you’ve thought about taking up? Now might be the time! Even before the coronavirus pandemic, there was a huge range of online learning options. Now, much traditional classroom learning has gone online. And, many companies are offering free or discounted learning tools for enrichment and things to do during coronavirus social isolation.

Rosetta Stone is offering three free months of their language learning program for students (and their parents). But, why not all join in to learn a language?

Didn’t reach your goal of going to Harvard? Check out 450 Ivy League courses you can now take free.

Lifehacker also shares their top 10 tools for free education online.

Osher Lifelong Learning provides some high quality courses to older adults in different communities. Many of these have gone online in light of coronavirus. Though not free, they offer high value with excellent teachers.

5. Free Enrichment: So Many Things to Do During Coronavirus Social Isolation!

So many companies and organizations are making content available or sharing their time and talent to people during this time. These range from virtual museum tours to free streaming concerts and theater. Check out NPR’s list here.

Take a free virtual tour of your favorite museum or “travel” afar to tour a local zoo, aquarium or theme park.

Of course, there is also some great educational programming on TV/Netflix, radio, and on podcasts. You can use your Alexa device to listen to podcasts together. There’s a podcast for virtually any topic or interest. A few some of our clients enjoy:

Relic Radio: audio artifacts from radio’s golden age

Car Talk: a classic from NPR, perfect for those interested in cars or just a good laugh

Story Corps: candid, unscripted conversations between two people about what’s important in life

Rick Steves Travel: travel the world from the comfort of home with America’s most respected authority on European travel

6. Virtual Get-Togethers

Plan a time to Facetime or Zoom with other family members, friends or the grandkids. Facetime is easy to use if you or Mom uses an iPhone. Zoom and Skype are free for basic use and can be done from any computer or smartphone. (Zoom is especially good for group video conferencing.) Set up an Alexa Show for easy video calls on an ongoing basis and make it easy for other family and friends to check in.

7. One of the Most Meaningful Things to Do During Coronavirus Social Isolation: Give Back

Do a meaningful project together. For example, you can join our National Nursing Home Card Party to let seniors isolated in nursing homes know that someone is thinking about them. Here are some other volunteer opportunities you can do from home. Check with your favorite local charity to see how you can help.

8. Pampering Party

Don’t worry…if you haven’t done your hair or makeup or even gotten out of your sweats lately, you’re not alone. But, we all feel better when we freshen up a bit. So, take some time to pamper yourselves. Maybe do facial masks together or have a “makeup” session and get Mom all dolled up. Give Dad a pedicure or hand and arm massage.

9. All Fun and Games

Play a game together. You can get the whole family in on the fun. You can play a whole range of games with a deck of cards. Or, pull out your board games and have a game night. You can also play charades or make up a trivia competition for the family. Lots of people are organizing online trivia parties and gaming competitions on Facebook Live or WhatsApp too.

10. Get organized

Always meaning to get Mom’s paperwork organized but never got around to it? Take this opportunity to organize key paperwork and records. Go through records and sort what you need to keep. Make sure it is organized and accessible. Scan documents into cloud storage for secure, remote access when needed. For example, do this with Mom’s advance directives so you always have access to those vital documents. Additionally, make sure those documents are completed and up-to-date.

This is also the perfect time to organize your contact list for the various professionals and doctors who help Mom. Make it easy to get in touch with who you need to. Additionally, go through Mom’s scheduled appointments to reschedule anything upcoming that is not urgent. Contact her doctors about telehealth options. Similarly, if she had planned a meeting with an attorney or another advisor, find out what can be done over the phone or video conferencing or what should be postponed.

We can help too! Reach out if you need help with care coordination and advocacy. You can download our Essential Eldercare Checklist for a list of what to organize and do at various stages.