Social isolation is nothing new for many older adults. It is a well-documented phenomenon associated with aging, which can have serious detrimental impacts on both physical and mental health. Now, in the era of coronavirus, more seniors than ever are isolated at home and are likely to remain this way for weeks. Whether you’re accustomed to this reality, or are struggling to adapt to the “new normal,” an abundance of local and online resources is available to help you preserve your wellbeing while socially distancing.
Let’s start with basic needs:
Assistance With Meals and Grocery Shopping
If you are unable to make it to the grocery store or don’t want to risk going out, there are multiple free and low-cost options to have food delivered to your home.
- Several providers around San Diego County offer nutritious prepared meals that can be picked up with minimal contact or delivered to your home for free or with a nominal donation.
- Paid grocery delivery services are booming these days but can be booked out weeks in advance. If you are a senior, volunteers from Stay Home SD will deliver groceries to your home to help you stay safe from coronavirus.
- If you need food assistance and meet income requirements, Feeding San Diego and the San Diego Food Bank have added new distribution sites to meet the surge in demand. Many now offer drive-up service as well.
Pet Food Assistance
Furry friends provide welcome companionship when we are stuck at home. If you need help affording pet food, the San Diego Humane Society and Helen Woodward Animal Center offer pet food pantries at locations around the county.
Seniors who need help getting to medical appointments or going on other essential trips can receive free or low-cost rides from FACT. Free ride services from volunteer drivers are also available through Jewish Family Service and ElderHelp’s Seniors a Go Go program.
Low-Cost Internet for seniors
If you don’t have internet access at your home, you may be eligible for low-cost internet service from one of several local providers. Check this list to find one in your area that can help you get connected.
Now on to the fun stuff!
Stay connected with friends and family
- By now you are likely familiar with video conferencing systems like Zoom and Google Hangouts. These free platforms are a wonderful way to stay connected with friends and family while physically separated. Another fun option you may not have tried is Houseparty, which allows you to play games like trivia and Quick Draw within the app.
- Play popular games like Scrabble, Mahjong and Bingo online with friends (paid) or against the computer (free) at Pogo.com.
- Now’s the perfect time to work on that family history project. Research genealogy and map your family tree for free at FamilySearch.org.
Feed your mind
- If you have a library card, the San Diego Public Library has thousands of e-books and audiobooks you can enjoy on your phone or computer. The San Diego County Library has also made it easy to sign up for a free library card with just your mobile phone number so you can access materials online.
- San Diego Oasis offers dozens of low-cost classes for seniors, which are now available online.
- Learn a foreign language in a fun (and free!) new way at Duolingo.com.
- Pick up a new career skill with a 30-day free trial from Lynda.com.
- Learn about a favorite subject with a 14-day free trial from The Great Courses.
Enjoy a concert from your couch
Watch cute animals
Break a sweat
- If you’re new to exercising, start with these Go4Life workout videos for seniors from the National Institute on Aging.
- Take it to the next level with these on-demand workouts from the YMCA.
- Need more motivation? Take the LiveWell@Home 30-Day Challenge to increase your fitness level while staying connected with your community.
Take a Virtual Vacation
- Visit five breathtaking national parks with these interactive virtual tours from the National Park Service and Google.
- Explore human history in a whole new way with the British Museum’s interactive timeline.
- Take a virtual tour of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C.
- View online exhibits from museums all over the world through Google’s Arts and Culture project.
- Visit the surface of Mars with this 360-degree interactive tour.
- Tired of traveling? Enjoy a virtual stay-cation with a screening of Balboa Park: The Jewel of San Diego. Sometimes the thing you need might just be in your own backyard.