Older woman talking on phone
By Victoria Jackson (Assistant Professor of Social Work and Social Ecology) - April 29, 2020

We've all seen the announcements that older adults, especially those with underlying health conditions, are hit hardest by the coronavirus and the illness it causes. Communities and businesses are stepping up to help keep older adults safe by minimizing their exposure to possible COVID-19 carriers. For example, many grocery stores now have special hours set aside earlier in the day for only those 65 and older to shop. Assisted living facilities and nursing homes, whose residents are particularly vulnerable, have transitioned to using windows to connect with family and friends as illustrated in this inspiring story provided by the American Association for Retired Persons (AARP).

Zoom family gatherings and FaceTime chats have become more widely used than ever before to stay connected with older loved ones. Of course, we can still use more traditional ways of reaching out—like telephones! But maybe now we can be more intentional. Start by making a call list of older adults, family, and friends you will call each day or each week. Then do it!

And when you call (or Zoom), choose laughter. Share joyful thoughts, stories, memories, links, and pictures. Why not start a journal of family memories? Write down or record those stories you want to have as part of your family's legacy. You might even start that "family and friends cookbook" you’ve always talked about but haven't gotten around to doing. Maybe Aunt Olga will finally tell you what's in her secret recipe for corn relish!

All in all, we need to both keep safe and find ways to remain connected to the older adults in our lives who are sometimes forgotten. Stay informed, stay connected, and stay well.