Many Lowcountry seniors are finding this time of social isolation to be very difficult. As human beings, we crave interaction with other people.
As people age, they often spend more time alone than when they were younger. This social isolation can lead to loneliness and depression.
Steve Cole, Ph.D. is the director of the Social Genomics Core lab at the University of California Los Angeles, and he works with the National Institute on Aging. "Loneliness acts as a fertilizer for other diseases," Dr. Cole said. "The biology of loneliness can accelerate the buildup of plaque in arteries, help cancer cells grow and spread, and promote inflammation in the brain, leading to Alzheimer's disease. Loneliness promotes several different types of wear and tear on the body."
There are ways to use technology to connect with the seniors in your life and help them feel socially connected. Most seniors have cell phones, and tablets are relatively inexpensive. These are excellent tools to stay in touch with your loved one.
Social media is an easy way to connect with loved ones around the world. Most seniors are able to easily connect with loved ones on Facebook to share photos, accomplishments, stories or even recipes. Facebook is a user friendly platform that can be set up on a tablet, computer or smart phone.
Facetime is a video call function accessed with the touch of a button. Seniors can easily have a video call with family and friends. The real-time video call is the next best thing to seeing loved ones in person.
Zoom, a platform that allows several people to have a video conference call at one time, has become quite popular recently. Think of the opening credits for the "Brady Bunch" TV show, with multiple small screens within the large screen.
Zoom was typically used in the business and education sector. Due to the recent pandemic and home quarantining, Zoom has gained popularity for personal use. Zoom is a great platform for families to meet face to face all over the country - or even across town.
If your loved one is unable to connect to technology on his or her own, consider hiring a caregiver to assist. The caregiver can help connect your senior with family and friends via whatever platform is available.
Jennifer Redmond is the family care coordinator for Senior Helpers of Hilton Head Island. firstname.lastname@example.org.