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.

Entertainment

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.

Exercise

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.

Learning

If you are feeling productive, this time of physical distancing can be a time to learn something.

Mental Health

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.

Running List of Helpful Information & Resources: COVID-19

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