Keeping Elders Busy When Protecting Them from Illness
Activities to alleviate boredom when staying at home is necessary during flu season (and inclement weather)

It is no secret that seniors, especially those with underlying health issues, are at a higher risk associated with Influenza and other medical menaces. While most of the population carries on with their daily lives, it is imperative that family members or other caregivers take precautions to keep elder individuals safe.

Living at home and spending a large portion of time there is best to reduce exposure. The goal is to limit contact with surfaces and persons who have been exposed to or are recovering from any of these potentially life-threatening illnesses. Although isolation is not mandatory, it can lessen the chances of becoming infected.

If the elder is amenable to remaining at home, relatives or home companions can do the grocery shopping, pharmacy errands, or have food and supplies delivered direct to their homes. Keep in mind that extra precaution is necessary for these people to avoid transmission to those they are assisting. If a physician is needed for non-serious medical issues, check with providers to confirm their temporary plan for in-person visits. Many offer tele-health conferencing applications as a connection with doctors for basic, non-life-threatening health concerns. Now that the initial steps to protect and plan have been considered, it is a good idea to think about what activities will help to curb the monotony of confinement.

  1. Jigsaw puzzles – many people actually have a stockpile of jigsaw puzzles that were intended for rainy day projects, but still remain unopened. Encourage your loved one to break out some of these puzzles to keep busy (bonus that it stimulates the brain and fine motor skills as well). Once completed, it can even be can set aside and treated with sealant to create a framable piece of art.
  2. Books – like jigsaw puzzles, books tend to accumulate. Relatives or home companions can promote forgotten about literature to keep busy and as a secondary incentive, to clear shelves. If the individual owns an e-reader, they can download directly from the internet without relying on a trip to the bookstore or library. This can be the perfect time for them to delve into the epic saga or how-to manual that they’ve always wanted to read! Active learning is fantastic for curing short and long-term boredom and exercises the brain.
  3. Streaming subscriptions – depending on connectivity availability, purchase Netflix or other entertainment content delivery service that offers an endless assortment of television shows, movies and live performances. Binge watching a series or documentaries can provide hours of enjoyment or knowledge, especially for those with limited mobility.
  4. Video calls – restricting visitors is recommended to avoid the spread of germs, but keeping in close contact with family and friends is vital to older adults’ happiness and well-being. Communication is crucial for socialization. Face-to-face conversations are the next best thing if you cannot have physical contact.
  5. Spring cleaning – most of us could always use some time to dedicate to organization and cleaning. Light activity like removing unused articles of clothing or knick-knacks fosters physical fitness and has a terrific outcome – simplicity and less clutter. Organizing can help to improve memory. If there are loose pictures or other keepsakes, this is the perfect opportunity to create photo albums or scrapbooks. Remember that virtually anything can be ordered online and delivered direct to the individual’s home: photo albums, storage containers, etc.
  6. Games – in the absence of a companion or cabinet stocked with board games, good solitaire alternatives are the cup stacking game which utilizes hand-eye coordination, crossword or word search puzzles for mental invigoration. During the times when a caregiver or other visitor is available, board games, chess, and cards are options for passing the time, interaction, and even a bit of friendly competition.
  7. Physical and Outdoor Activity – seated exercises and strength building using canned goods can be implemented if no other equipment is available. If the weather is tolerable, exercises can be completed outside. Even just sitting outside, getting fresh air, and taking in the elements of nature can revitalize mood and be an uplifting source of energy.

In addition to all the suggestions, if your loved one has hobbies such as knitting or painting, now is a good time as ever to carry out these pastimes. Clearly it may be impossible to remain homebound or in solitude, so should older adults need to be out and about, be sure that they or anyone they have close contact with practices good hand hygiene, sterilization of surfaces, and reduces exposure to large crowds in confined spaces

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