Five More Ways to Stay Healthy While Social Distancing

Related topics: Health & Wellness

The CDC reminds us to use disinfecting products safely. What else can we do to protect our health at this time?

Senior woman disinfecting her kitchen

Don't neglect routine health care appointments

The top story, "Do Not Let Life-Threatening Ailments Go Unchecked During the Pandemic," urged patients to seek help immediately for symptoms of stroke, heart attack and fall injuries. Doctors also report that many seniors have been avoiding important appointments for managing health problems such as diabetes, kidney disease, heart failure, hypertension, age-related macular degeneration and other chronic conditions. Hospitals, clinics, doctor offices and dentists are taking stringent precautions to keep patients safe at this time. Many have implemented telemedicine visits for patients. Contact your healthcare provider to make arrangements for your routine appointments. If appointments were cancelled earlier, call to reschedule.

Avoid loneliness and depression

Before the COVID-19 epidemic, seniors were already dealing with what's been called "an epidemic of loneliness." By most accounts, the quarantine has multiplied that problem dramatically. But some good news is emerging during this unprecedented time. Many people have really stepped up to the plate to keep older adults connected in new ways! Experts say many seniors have taken up communication tools like video chatting and social media for the first time—and predictions are that they're won't give up those new skills as social distancing is relaxed. Senior living communities are working overtime (and then some) to keep residents connected at a safe distance, and in some states others are cautiously reopening. Find ways to connect with other people and to get outdoors safely.

Take care while sanitizing

These days, most of us are becoming expert germ fighters. That's an important way to stop the spread of the coronavirus. We're washing our hands frequently, and disinfecting surfaces, especially high touch areas such as door handles and countertops. But the products we use aren't without dangers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports an increase in calls to poison control hotlines relating to disinfectant products, and they offer this advice: "To reduce improper use and prevent unnecessary chemical exposures, users should always read and follow directions on the label, only use water at room temperature for dilution (unless stated otherwise on the label), avoid mixing chemical products, wear eye and skin protection, and ensure adequate ventilation." And even if you are using these products frequently, be sure to put them away safely after each use, out of reach of children and people with dementia.

Eat well … but not too much

So many of us are missing our favorite restaurants and leisurely grocery shopping trips. Today many older adults are relying on family to shop for them, or trying to make very few trips. It's tempting to rely more on processed foods instead of fresh veggies and fruit—but those packaged foods might be loaded with salt and unhealthy fats. And though food can be a comfort, we'll be decidedly less comfortable if we pack on extra pounds.

We can still get fresh, healthy food through grocery delivery or takeout or delivery from restaurants. Senior meal delivery programs are getting back on track. Senior living communities have been delivering meals to residents' rooms, and many are gradually reopening their dining rooms. And one more reminder: despite all the jokes about having a couple of "quarantinis," this is not a time to increase our alcohol consumption.

Exercise: make the effort

Inactivity is a major threat to senior wellness. Under normal circumstances, most older adult try to get some exercise. Some of us are more active than others, with a regular routine of aerobic, muscle strengthening and balance activities. Others might not take part in formal exercise, yet still get a fair amount of activity—walking to the store, visiting friends, gardening or cleaning the house.

But many of our habitual exercise opportunities are closed or operating at limited capacity right now—the senior center, the gym, or the exercise room at our senior living community. Still, there's plenty we can do to stay on the move. While observing the recommended social distancing, go out for a walk. If you are a gym member, ask if they offer virtual classes. Check out exercise videos. If you and a friend are exercise buddies, email each other reminders. And if you're having frequent video chats with a friend or family member these days, mix it up with audio-only calls so you can do laps around the house while catching up on gossip.

Source: IlluminAge Communication Partners; copyright 2020 IlluminAge