One unintended side effect of coronavirus is how hard people are working to staying connected while social distancing. Folks get creative when a real need arises. Italians singing from windows and balconies. People visiting relatives through windows. In my neighborhood, people are sitting in theirs yards and porches and talking across the sidewalk. It is like we’ve been thrown back a few years to when we couldn’t text.
We all need to stay connected. We are hearing in our circles that a lot of people think that the term should be “physical distancing” and not “social distancing”. Social connection does not have to come through close contact.
One of the things we talk about a lot when reframing aging is how we need more connection. This is not a time to separate from our social connections and supports. Older adults, in particular, can suffer the most from this. We need connection even more. We just need to get a bit creative.
Keeping connected while social distancing
While people are finding ways to connect, this is still a shift and it isn’t always easy, especially for those who are the most socially isolated. We’d like to offer some resources and ideas for ways to entertain yourself, be engaged with things that are important, and stay connected to friends and family. This is going to be an ongoing list. We want your input!
Comment on this blog with your ideas or reach us on Facebook to let us know other ways to stay connected while social distancing.
Staying connected to people
One of the key things we are missing while keeping our distance is talking to people. There are lots of ways to meet virtually, even if you cannot go outside.
Video chatting and virtual get togethers are great for keeping in touch. This may be a good time to reach out to someone you haven’t talked to in a while. First off, there is always the phone. If you want some other options, here are some to get you started.
- Zoom – This is great for video calls and when you want to have a few people get together virtually. People use it for meetings, but it can also be a virtual coffee or cocktail hour.
- Google Hangouts – Another way to set up video meetings for one-on-one or groups.
- Facebook Live – If you want a bigger audience and are on Facebook, you can be the star. Right now, some people are offering to read books out loud or teach things. Janine’s brother, a musician in Rhode Island who does gigs in nursing homes, is planning to do some Facebook Live performances.
- freeconferencecall.com – This is really free and you can talk to multiple people at once.
- https://caribu.com/ – Video-calling app that integrates children’s books and activities, and is free during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Grandparents Academy – Resources for using technology
Connecting to neighbors or just people in general
- Covia Well Connected – offers activities, support groups, and conversation via phone
- Nextdoor – Be ready to connect to a lot of neighbors. In some places, many are brainstorming how to support small business, non-profits and those who need help right now.
- Connect to neighbors across the street.
Virtual volunteer opportunities
Want to do something helpful to stay connected while social distancing? There are opportunities online to volunteer for others. Besides keeping us busy, we get mental and physical health benefits from helping others.
- DoSomething.org – Youth-led movement to volunteer and create social change
- 25 Volunteer Jobs to Do From Home
- VolunteerMatch.org – Many options to help in your area
- Create the Good – AARP – Find opportunities to volunteer near you
- Upchieve.org – Volunteers provide free online STEM tutoring
- CareerVillage – Students get career advice from professionals
- Kind Connection – Provide social support via phone
- Spark the Change – Volunteer opportunities for all ages in Colorado
- Boomers Leading Change – Fill out this form and they will connect you with agencies in need.
- A Call to Care – Be or find a cross-generational buddy
Many of us need some distraction right now. Since we can’t join our friends in social settings, we’ve collected some ideas for virtual entertainment.
- Book club tips while social distancing
- Take a virtual tour of National Parks
- Animal Cams – There are lots of these, but here’s a start.
- Authors doing readings online:
- Free coloring pages from museums
- Educational videos to keep kids busy from Ted Talks.
- Virtual concerts – Check out the social media of your favorite musicians and they may be giving concerts. Here’s a running list of some concerts from Billboard.com.
- Tiny Desk Concerts – music you can watch anytime and catch up on new people
- Netflix Party – This option is social! You can watch movies with friends. It even pauses everyone together and gives you a way to talk while you watch.
- Check out this Virtual Tours list from Tufts Health Plan.
We have to keep moving! If you can get outside, it is possible to walk and bike while keeping a safe distance. If you are stuck inside, here are some other options we’ve heard about.
- Dance for Parkinsons – free online dance classes
- Parkinson’s Association offering free online research-based workouts
- Many yoga options online:
- Silver Sneakers – No cost for adults 65+ online workouts
If you are feeling productive, this time of physical distancing can be a time to learn something.
- Get Set Up – Learn the tech you need for education, exercise and general getting along in life.
- SkillShare– Classes to upgrade your skills
- Broaden your mind or update your job skills with online learning
- Virtual tours
- Lincoln Center’s website has free videos: http://www.lincolncenter.org/video
- Duolingo – free language lessons
Last, but by far not least, we are all under more stress right now. Here is the CDC’s advice and for people age 65 and over. Know too that Medicare has now Medicare’s expanded Telehealth benefits, including for mental health counseling. If interested, you should contact your provider.
If you need more information on COVID-19, here too is a running list of links and resources.
Please share your ideas and what you’ve found helpful; we’re going to keep adding to this list.
Janine Vanderburg, Director of Changing the Narrative in Colorado, and Sara Breindel, Changing the Narrative blogger