Editor’s note: Lockdown and isolation measures necessary to battle the COVID pandemic have placed heavy restrictions on our activities. These measures are particularly hard on the most vulnerable people in society, mainly elderly people and those whose health problems meant they were required to take extra care by this “stay-at-home” message. In this article, Anna Preston discusses tips that caregivers can implement to make the lives of those they are caring for better and ease some of the pains of lockdown and isolation measures.
By Anna Preston (Live-In Care Hub, a UK non-profit)
The series of lockdowns through the Covid-19 pandemic turned life for all of us upside down as heavy restrictions were placed on our movements. The ‘stay at home’ message was tough on many people but was undoubtedly tougher on the most vulnerable people in society, mainly elderly people and those whose health problems meant they were required to take extra care by shielding.
This presented a problem for care at home providers who have had to find new ways of keeping their patients’ minds and bodies active and entertained while they were unable to receive visitors. The challenge then was to find a series of online activities to enjoy for those with their own internet-enabled device as well as those who have to share.
One of the first destinations was Skype, Facetime or Zoom to enable people to keep in touch with loved ones and friends.
Tips for Easing the Pains of Lockdown and Social Isolation Measures: For those who like to read
To stop people feeling isolated and cut off from the outside world a digital news provider called PressReader offers online access to newspapers and magazines for those in residential homes and those receiving support from live-in care agencies. This is an essential online service for people who like to read and who like to keep abreast of current news. Other online news providers have a number of games, puzzles and crosswords which can be enjoyed either alone or with a carer.
There are a series of activities especially aimed at dementia patients who will need help in downloading the following:
Tips for Easing the Pains of Lockdown and Social Isolation Measures: BBC Reminiscence Archive
Research has shown that dementia patients are comforted by reminders of happy events and places from long ago. The BBC provides a large archive of videos, sound clips and photographs which are freely available. Access the BBC Reminiscence Archive here and then select a theme or decade to find image, audio or video content.
Tips for Easing the Pains of Lockdown and Social Isolation Measures: My Reef 3D Aquarium
This is good for those with advanced dementia. It gives users an opportunity to engage in stocking the fish tank virtually then sitting back to watch the 14 different types of fish. The MYReef 3D Aquarium is available to download through the Google playstore.
Another fish-related app is the Retro Fish Game for cognitive skills which helps to keep the brain active and improve hand to eye coordination.
Tips for Easing the Pains of Lockdown and Social Isolation Measures: Colouring Websites
Colouring in is a great activity for all ages, hence the resurgence of colouring books available to buy, particularly for adults. In the absence of actual colouring books there are various websites which allow for virtual colouring in of all kinds of images. The touchscreen types work especially well for dementia patients who may struggle to get to grips with pens or pencils.
Tips for Easing the Pains of Lockdown and Social Isolation Measures: Online Exercise Classes
It’s essential for older people to keep active and this can be difficult where restrictions on movement are in place. Go online to look for free exercise classes specifically tailored for older people. Simple, chair-based exercises to music can benefit all fitness levels as well as providing interest and entertainment. For the more active, the Strictly Come Dancing collection on YouTube or BBC iPlayer is a great source of fun.
Whether it’s music and memories, exercise, nature, gardening, theatre or education, everything can be found online with just a few clicks.
Editor’s note: Anna Preston has also written two other articles that provide tips on caring for patients:
- Does the elderly patient you’re caring for have a gambling problem?
- Helping the elderly understand the internet
Anna Preston is a consultant with Live-In Care Hub, a not-for-profit organization committed to raising the quality of elderly care in the UK by giving everyone the opportunity to be cared for in their own home, where they can still feel part of their community.