Fun Ways for Residents to Stay Connected During Social Distancing

Fun Ways for Senior Residents to Stay Connected

Experience virtual travel

Visit Smithsonian Magazine’s virtual travel home page to tour world destinations, or look up Google’s virtual tours of five U.S. National Parks, where you’ll be guided by a local ranger.

Try origami

This tutorial from Spruce Crafts is a great introduction to origami, the Japanese art of paper-folding. Residents can try their hand at making a flower, a box, an airplane and dozens of other projects!

Take a virtual museum tour

Go online to sample a free tour of exhibits within the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Vatican Museum in Room, the Louvre in Paris and more.

Visit a theme park online

Venture online to view YouTube videos of Disney World theme park rides like It’s A Small World and Pirates of the Caribbean, or check out virtual tours of Six Flags Great America in Illinois or SeaWorld Orlando in Florida.

Explore podcasts

This slideshow from Oprah Magazine of the Top 15 podcasts of 2020 is a great appetizer for residents who might be wary of the podcasting medium. Encourage them to listen around and find their favorites!

Try cooking in quarantine

Have residents share their favorite homecooked recipes for others to try out in their apartment kitchens. Nothing says community like a shared recipe, even if it’s prepared apart.

Set a daily goal to touch base

Set a goal for staff to send a specific number of texts or emails every day to every resident in the community. While in-person visits are better, even small connections can make a big difference.

Plan a weekly movie night

Give out boxes of popcorn and screen a movie on your community’s channel at the same time every week. Let residents vote on the week’s choice. Initiate a Zoom discussion afterward.

Check out guided meditations online

For relaxation, encourage residents to check out guided meditations available on the internet. A couple of YouTube favorites are Joanne D’Amico’s Relax for a While and The Honest Guys channel.

Give out creative writing prompts and journals

Start an online writing group that residents can join via email, then offer a daily creative writing prompt for them to respond to in their personal journal. When social distancing ends, host a coffeehouse night!

Attend virtual religious services 

Help residents get set up to attend local religious services online, via FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, Skype or Zoom, depending on the medium used by their place of worship.

Access Project Gutenberg

With Project Gutenberg, residents can use the internet to access thousands of classic books, no library card needed. Encourage residents to visit the online library of over 60,000 free e-books that are in the public domain.

Connect the old and the young

Work with a local elementary school to create a pen pal program with students. By sending emails, photos and drawings, kids can offer your residents a sense of vibrancy and hope, while residents can teach them about simpler times.

Start a letter-writing club

Set aside a designated time for residents to write letters to their family and friends. It can be heartening for seniors to take the time to write out their thoughts in a letter and receive correspondence in exchange.

Observe wildlife at virtual zoos

Assist residents in checking out the Cincinnati Zoo’s daily Facebook Live video streams of Fiona the Hippo, or Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium penguins, who roam the zoo after hours.

Provide daily updates from your executive director

Whether sent via email, posted to your community’s Facebook page or shared on your blog, a daily update from the top official within your community could be comforting for residents and families in uncertain times.

Solicit iPad donations from the public

Post a call on social media for iPad donations so seniors can stay in touch with their families and entertain themselves virtually. Many people have unused tablets in their homes they would be happy to donate to a good cause.

Start a virtual book club

Let residents sign up to take part in a virtual book club via Zoom, Google Hangouts or a similar service. Send around a poll with several book choices so residents can pick their book of the month.

Offer access to streaming classes/meetups

Educational tech websites for seniors, like Senior Planet, offer virtual events and classes every day for seniors to learn and stay stimulated in the virtual company of seniors tuning in from all over the country.

Share positive stories from within your community

Document cute stories that happen in the community and share them around, either as a video update or Facebook post. Don’t forget to contact local media if you think you’ve found something newsworthy!

Sign up residents for FaceTime calls

Volunteer to teach residents with iPhones how to set up FaceTime video phone calls with their families. Visually seeing friends and family while speaking to them can lend a whole new level of connectivity to the interaction, not to mention a Jetsons-like thrill.

Have an online gaming competition

To stay connected with family, friends and peers, residents can find multiplayer games like Battleship and Bridge on interactive game websites, or by downloading gaming mobile apps like Words with Friends. A round of friendly competition can be very intellectually stimulating for residents.

Initiate a gratitude conversation

To help residents put this difficult time into perspective, facilitate a Zoom conversation where residents are invited to talk about what they are grateful for. Encourage residents to share their own thoughts following the discussion.

Recruit subject matter experts

Seek out local experts to lead remote educational presentations on subjects like history, literature or science, or find local fitness teachers to lead remote exercise classes like yoga, breathing and stretching. Stream the “classes” on Facebook Live, or show them on your community’s TV channel.

Develop and share music playlists

Use the universal language of music as a tool to bring people together and ask staff and residents to develop and share Spotify playlists within the community. Sharing songs can be very powerful in strengthening community bonds.

Schedule virtual meals with family

Are any of your residents tech-savvy enough to use Skype or FaceTime? Encourage them to schedule a mealtime with a friend or family member! Even better when you deliver their meal and then help them set up with a video call before you leave.

Find a pen pal or be one

Receiving mail is such a simple joy. Reach out to residents’ family members (who may also have children out of school) or local community groups and encourage them to send a handwritten note to their loved ones.

Stream live music

There are so many ways to listen to music these days, but most people can agree: nothing beats a live concert. Have local music groups perform live and stream it on internal networks, like LifeLoop, for your residents, or make the performance available in real time on Facebook Live. Or help residents tap into music around the world such as: The Quarantine Soirees (Budapest Orchestra), The Metropolitan Opera and Broadway shows.

Volunteer by phone

Giving back can be so fulfilling. Help residents connect with a nonprofit, school, church or political party to make phone calls or write letters on behalf of the organization.

Mobilize your staff

Create exciting new routines for residents to look forward to. Have staff stop by residents’ rooms each day with an art project or activity for them to work on or create snack and beverage carts that circle the community each day. You can treat residents to their morning coffee, afternoon tea or happy hour.

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