Coronavirus: More dangers of social isolation

Because of the pandemic, we are all too familiar with social distancing. But there are a lot of ways to stay together while being physically apart.

No dinner parties … no bridge … not even a pickle ball game.

We are all too familiar with social distancing. But some say we should use the word physical distancing instead. You can stay social even though you need to stay far away.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Poll on Healthy Aging found that one in three seniors is lonely.

“I went days without seeing people. I mostly talked to a cat,” said Ann Simmons, a widow.

Dr. Harry Taylor, who studies social isolation in older adults, said that it’s one of the worst things we can do to our overall well-being.

“Those who are socially isolated have about the equivalent rate of experiencing mortality as those who smoked 15 cigarettes per day. When your cortisol, when your adrenaline is constantly running, it just does a lot of damage to your body and causes basically increased aging,” said Taylor.

And exacerbates any preexisting medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease or Alzheimer’s.

Here’s what you can do to stay together while being apart.

If you know someone who is alone, stay connected. Instead of eating dinner alone, try having a virtual dinner party. Through platforms, such as Facetime, Zoom, or Skype, you can share a meal.

Virtual hangouts can also be used for celebrating birthdays, exercise sessions, and even to play poker.

Also, if you can’t grab lunch together, try dropping lunch off at your friend’s doorstep.

Another way to connect, since you can’t go to the movie theater with friends, bring the experience home. Netflix offers a free app called Netflix party, where you can synchronize video playback and add group chats while watching your favorite Netflix shows.

If you can’t get your loved ones virtually, try sending a gift or an old-fashioned letter with a photo to brighten up their day.