Social distancing has become the buzzword of the last year, and with good reason. Keeping yourself and loved ones socially distanced is one of the best ways to protect one another. But alongside the safety of social distancing is the often damaging prospect of isolation and loneliness. If you’re caring for a loved one as their family caregiver, you’ll know the unique challenges this year has created for our sick, disabled, and elderly communities. The good news is that there are many ways to keep the aging and ailing loved ones in your care entertained and engaged without putting them at risk. With you in mind and a touch of creativity, we’ve put together a list of ideas: socially distanced activities for you to do with your care recipient.
Virtual Tours / Live Cams
Virtual tours and exhibits have gotten so much more creative than this over the last year. Here are some outside-of-the-box virtual events you can attend with your loved one:
Virtual Day at the Zoo. Many zoos offer virtual tours or live camera streaming that will allow you to watch certain exhibits and animals (like polar bears or tigers) from home.
Live-Stream Nature with Explore.org. They have cameras showing live streams of the Northern Lights, elephants in the wild, and nature reserves all over the world.
Visit the Louvre in Paris. Explore the Louvre from home and see the museum in a tourist-free way. You can view galleries, rooms, and the internal architecture of one of the most fantastic museums in the world right from your living room.
Visit the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Every exhibit in the museum is available for viewing at your convenience through 360-degree room tours.
Visit the Vatican Museum. You can tour Michaelangelo’s Sistine Chapel and some of the other amazing exhibits from the heart of Italy - Vatican City. (Fun fact: Vatican City is the smallest independent country in the world - the entire country is within the city of Rome!)
For more virtual tour ideas, check out this list by Good Housekeeping.
There are some incredible free exercise resources on the Internet for you to check out.
Elderly exercise videos can be found for free on the NIA (National Institute on Aging) website.
Go for a walk (or car ride with the windows down). Getting fresh air is a great way to liven spirits and reenergize.
Check YouTube for exercise videos that fit your loved one’s condition (such as “exercises for post-stroke paralysis” or “gentle chair yoga”).
Get a tabletop puzzle or game to play together.
Test and improve memory with the free printable mind games from Qualint.
Play music from your loved one’s era (this is especially engaging for your care recipient if they are currently struggling with any form of dementia like Alzheimer’s Disease).
Walk down memory lane. Look through photo albums, put together scrapbooks, or watch home videos.
Switch up routines. If you have a very consistent routine with your care recipient, their brain may be running on auto-pilot most of the time. Play around with slight adjustments (like taking a new route on your walk or adding cinnamon to their coffee) to trigger their brain’s critical thinking.
Plan virtual events with loved ones. Planning a virtual event or scheduled phone call with loved ones is a great way to remind your care recipient that they’re loved, thought of, and not alone.
Have a movie night. Pick a movie, pop some popcorn (if safe for your loved one to eat), and dim the lights for an in-home movie theater night.
Plan a picnic. Pack a nice snack or lunch and take it to a local park, beach, lake, or nature reserve to enjoy.
Watch a game together. Classic/historic games from many professional sports leagues (like the MLB, NBA, or NFL) are available to stream for free on their YouTube channels.
Social distancing has become the main focus for many of us over the last year. It can be difficult to keep your care recipient feeling engaged during a time of distancing, but we hope to have given you some new ideas for how to cope with this issue in the new year.
For further reading and resources, we invite you to check out our library of information for family caregivers by clicking here. You are also welcome to give us a call at 800-543-8312 to find out more about how we can support you in your caregiving journey.