Supporting Older Adults to Stay Home and Stay Healthy

April 15, 2020

Senior centers and fitness classes are closed to ensure participants, staff, and program leaders stay home and stay healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although physical distancing is important, it is also important to help people maintain social connections. This is especially true for older adults who are particularly vulnerable to social isolation and complications from the virus.

Social distancing can have unintended consequences in limiting older adults’ ability to do activities that are critical to their well-being like healthy eating, exercise, and social interactions. Community-based organizations are finding ways to stay connected with the older adults they serve. Aging and Long-Term Care of Eastern Washington (ALTCEW) is partnering with the WSU College of Nursing to create a buddy system called the Senior Reassurance Program. Staff and volunteers make routine calls to seniors, providing resources and socialization. ALTCEW can help with resources for groceries, home delivered meals, transportation, benefit assistance, caregiver support, and more. To sign up for the Senior Reassurance Program, please contact ALTCEW’s Help Line at 509-960-7281 or email action@altcew.org.

Community members can play an important role in encouraging older adults to engage in activities that support their mental and emotional well-being such as:

  • Creating and following a regular routine. Structure is important to staying well.
  • Connecting to others by phone, video chat, email, or letters.
  • Attending online group meetings or religious services remotely.
  • Accessing the local library online.
  • Taking intentional breaks from watching and listening to the news to reduce stress.
  • Finding ways to laugh and do fun activities like reading a book, playing music, dancing, trying a puzzle (word, jigsaw, etc.), gardening, going for a walk, meditating, or other hobbies.

In addition to mental well-being, it is also important to promote physical well-being with older adults. The Stay Home, Stay Healthy order can cause people to become more sedentary as fitness classes, gyms, and community events are temporarily closed or postponed. Older adults are susceptible to declines in muscle and bone strength if they don’t remain active.

Doing strength, balance and flexibility exercise can help older adults maintain their independence and ability to do day-to-day activities. These free, online resources can help older adults stay physically active while at home:

Let’s all support the emotional and physical needs of the older adults in our community. Together we are #InlandStrong!