If you and your family, like many others, are socially distancing from one another to protect a loved one who is elderly or immunocompromised, there are other ways to stay connected! While it is painful and stressful to be separated from the ones we love, quarantining and self-isolating has created an amazing opportunity for us to experience something most of us haven’t experienced since we were children: boredom. Our busy schedules, obligations, and devices simply didn’t allow for it.
When a child is bored, they play. They pick up a crayon, a guitar, they make art and create plays and write songs and learn how to make cookies. They read books and explore new ideas and ask questions. The beautiful gift in all of this is the opportunity to be bored, and to miss the ones we love so much that we think of a new way to tell them how we feel. Get creative!
Here are ten ways to get you started, but the possibilities are limitless.
#10) Share your newly developed quarantine hobby! Are you learning something new during quarantine? Share it with your loved one! Decided to finally learn calligraphy? Wonderful! Showcase your work on some wall art or a card! Learning Italian? Great – share something funny or interesting that you learned to say. Kids made up a new dance routine? Share a video! Finally figured out how to make real bread? With yeast? Drop off a loaf!* Sharing the new developments in your family and how you are all learning and growing can promote opportunities for connection.
#9) Make a photo album – with notes included! Do a dump from your phone and have the photos printed at your local 1-hour photo delivery. Get your family involved and create a scrapbook or photo album for your loved one! Of course you would include notes about how you love and miss your loved one. You could add drawings, clippings, and more! There are other options that print photo books that are affordable and faster to produce if you aren’t artistically minded. This could be a beautiful family project that would eventually be a family heirloom.
#8) Help and support your loved one’s health and life style! Check frequently on your loved one! Ask if they need anything at all. They may need supplies, emotional support or encouragement. They may need assistance dealing with contractors, or scheduling an essential appointment. Your support will ensure that your loved one doesn’t feel forgotten while in isolation.
#7) Make and share lists with your loved one. This could include “Ten Things I Miss About You” or “Ten Things We Will Do When This Is All Over”. Grandkids could make coupons for activities to share with their Grandma or Grandpa – sweet reminders of all of the things we love about our families!
#6) Share an experience! This could be watching the same movie or show at the same time, then discussing it after! If your loved one likes to read, you could drop off a copy of one of your favorite books – with underlines, notes in the margins, and include a note about why you think they would like it. There are more virtual events taking place now than ever before, even chair yoga classes and virtual benefit concerts! There are tons of online games, from Chess, to word games and trivia, to a variety of adventure games.
#5) Bake their favorite dessert! Or order their favorite pizza, specialty coffee beverage, ice cream, or other favorite carry out that they may not have access to right now!*
#4) Deliver a “Quarantine Kit” Let’s unleash that boredom and encourage some play! Put together a “Quarantine Kit” for your loved one, who may feel bored and alone while social distancing. This might include such things as a bottle of champagne or their favorite tea, a magazine, manicure set, puzzles, some new slippers or pajamas, adult coloring book, lottery tickets, a deck of cards, a journal, watercolors or any kind of hobby kit, treats, and more!*
#3) Write a Letter Hand write an old-fashioned letter! Or get a card that allows you to record a message or song so your loved one can listen to it whenever they are missing you.
#2) Window Visit A window visit is a wonderful way to safely see your loved ones face! Be creative! There are tons balloons, flowers, posters, a boom box, and more. Consider your loved one and decide what type of presentation would be best for them. Be prepared for inclement weather! And if you are coming with other people, be sure to wear masks, social distance, and take necessary precautions. Let the staff at the community know about your plan so they can coordinate things – they may have other ideas or freebies to throw in to make it even better for your loved one!
#1) Call. Your. Mom. The easiest way is to simply call! According to a study in the Scientific American, talking on the phone has the same physiological effect as hugging; simply hearing their voice can initiate the same biochemical responses – including the reduction of cortisol, and the release of oxytocin, the hormone that promotes bonding. The auditory effects of merely speaking on the phone are extremely beneficial, but there are many platforms that offer visual chats as well. If your loved one lives at a health care facility and isn’t “tech savvy”, check with the staff and see if there is any way they can help. Many communities are offering assistance with FaceTime, Zoom, GoogleDuo, and more. But is there anything better than a good old-fashioned cord-twirling conversation?
*Note: if your loved one lives in a healthcare facility or senior living community, be sure to check their policy for deliveries.