In light of the current global pandemic COVID-19, we have been unfortunately required to participate in strict social isolation measures to combat the virus. While this is an important step in ensuring our current physical health, it may negatively impact our mental health and future physical health.
The Florida State University College of Medicine discovered an association between seclusion and the chance of an individual developing dementia in older adulthood (The Journals of Gerontology: Series B, online 2018). Social isolation and subsequent feelings of loneliness has also been linked to cardiovascular disease (Leigh-Hunt et al., 2017). However, there are many ways we can engage in the community that will be beneficial to our physical and mental health. For example, a study piloted by Niklas Steffens, PhD, from The University
of Queensland established that older Australians who participate in local community clubs had a greater life expectancy (BMJ Open, Vol. 6, No. 2, 2016).
Even though it may seem we are far apart from friends and loved ones, there are many ways we can fight the feeling of loneliness during our social distancing. The 21 st century has brought us many useful technological inventions which allows us to keep in contact with
people around the world. Using video calling platforms are great ways to visually chat with others, with popularity of skyrocketing in the past few months. It is important to help out older Australians who may not be used to this technology, as they can reap many benefits. Yet a simple phone call to a neighbour or grandchild is enough to bring feelings of warmth.
Keeping social connections is now possible with these technologies. So, continue to hold your monthly book club, fortnightly art class, or weekly choir group. Initiate new traditions like a Friday movie night with the family (online of course) and make new suggestions to
keep each other occupied and stimulated during isolation. One of my favourite new routines is participating in video call workout sessions. This way I have the ability to preserve my friendships, as well as maintaining an active lifestyle to enhance my positivity!