Let’s be honest. The past six months haven’t been easy. It’s not just the fears of catching the COVID-19 virus and concerns about the welfare of our loved ones that are weighing us down.

After nearly six months of sheltering in place, we’re bored. Really bored.

But staying indoors is important, especially for older adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, our risk of getting severely ill from COVID-19 increases with age.

As much as we don’t want to catch COVID-19, we also don’t want to come down with a bad case of cabin fever.

Unlike the coronavirus, “cabin fever” isn’t a real health affliction. Instead, it’s a phrase that originated either in the early 1800s when America was dealing with a nasty typhus outbreak or in the 1900s as a nickname for the boredom that accompanied long winters spent inside.

No matter its origin, “cabin fever” is a concept that people around the world are all too familiar with right now.

To keep yourself safe from COVID-19 — and cabin fever — we look to senior living experts’ TOP 10 TIPS for staying entertained and energized during the pandemic.

Tip #1: Preserve Your Favorite Photos

Now is a great time to break out the shoeboxes and albums and get family photos organized. If you have a scanner, or even a phone with a camera, you can “digitize” your printed photos and send the files to friends and family. There are also several companies that offer a mail-in version of this service.

While looking through photos, find a few to frame (with supplies purchased online, of course). If you’ve spent the past six months indoors, refreshing your walls will provide a nice change of pace whether you live at home or in an active senior living community.

Tip #2: Make a Recipe Book

In addition to making digital photo albums, you can also create a cookbook of your favorite family recipes. If you’re comfortable on the computer, you can type the recipes in Google Docs or Microsoft Word and print them out.

Every family has a favorite recipe, so why not preserve them forever?

Ordering a professional printed cookbook online through a service such as Shutterfly.com or createmycookbook.com will capture your family’s culinary traditions for future generations. Plus, gifted cookbooks to friends and family who are also spending lots of time indoors will appreciate the new additions to their dinner routine.

Sonata West recently shared its Signature Orange Dreamsicle Cookie recipe in a live Facebook event so residents and their families could enjoy making them at home!

Tip #3: Enter a Competition or Contest

We may be stuck inside, but nobody can quarantine your creativity! Regardless of your age or ability level, online competitions and contests are a fun way to show off your talent or discover new interests.

Art lovers can show off their work in any number of international art competitions.

Get in touch with your inner author and submit a poem or nonfiction story in an online writing contest. Or share your hidden musical talents with the world and compete for cash in the Seniors Got Talent online competition.

Social media provides a great outlet for friendly competition. Sonata West’s weekly horse race, the Sonata Derby, attracts residents on Facebook Fridays. Weekly cornhole toss and bowling competitions also keep things lively in the hallways!

Tip #4: Make Your Own Radio Station

Services like Spotify and Apple Music allow you to create playlists of your favorite songs and albums. You can create themed lists — like songs that were played at your prom or your favorite band’s top hits — to send to friends and family. It’s a great way to share a part of your life with the people you care about.

Sonata Senior Living believes in incorporating music wherever possible in residents’ lives. At Serenades by Sonata, individualized music taps the science behind music and memories to develop personalized playlists for residents.

Tip #5: Adopt a Shelter Pet

Pets provide hours of entertainment and companionship. Owning a pet can also lower blood pressure, ease symptoms of depression and anxiety, and improve the well-being of people suffering from chronic diseases.

Call your local shelter or check their website to find your new furry friend. Many shelters also offer reduced or waived adoption fees for older adults.

Sonata Senior Living’s independent living communities are pet-friendly and recognize the therapeutic benefits of pet ownership for older adults.

Tip #6: Read a Book (or Three)

One upside of the shelter-in-place recommendations? You finally have lots of time to read. The Guardian’s list of the best books of the 21st century will provide plenty of inspiration for your reading pleasure. If vision issues make reading difficult, you can also use a service like Audible to listen to audiobooks.

Many senior living communities offer book clubs so like-minded neighbors can share in their love for literature.

Tip #7: Plan a Vacation

Studies have shown that planning a trip can be almost as satisfying as taking one. Start writing down your bucket list destinations and itineraries now so that when the pandemic ends, you’re ready to start traveling right away.

Or, take a tip from Sonata’s life enrichment and programming experts and take a day trip right now, virtually, from the comfort of home.

Residents of Sonata Senior Living take frequent “virtual vacations” and day trips online.
Here’s a recent travel itinerary shared by Sonata West:






Tip #8: Travel the World

Nowadays, there are very few places you can’t travel to with a click of your mouse. From climbing the Great Wall of China to touring the Vatican, older adults can skip the crowds and take a trip to any destination from an electronic device.

Sonata West Lifestyles Director Ashley Baptista hosts a World Travel Game every week, which offers a safe way for older adults to travel the world. She shares literature about exotic destinations and invites residents to share their personal photos of their travel experiences to be entered into a drawing for prizes.

Residents can also set sail on a virtual cruise!

Tip #9: Grow Something

Many older adults in Florida enjoy gardening indoors and away from the hot sun. Since many of us are doing more cooking than ever before, it’s a perfect time to grow an herb garden.

Even if you’ve never had a green thumb, new indoor smart gardens and garden kits make it easy for anyone to grow herbs, vegetables, microgreens and more!

While social distancing, Sonata Senior Living residents planted flowers and shared photos on Facebook to see whose blooms appeared first!

Tip #10: Attend Church

Older adults who are accustomed to attending services may be feeling a loss of community. For many, it is a regular way to stay connected to friends and family.

Fortunately, many congregations and groups meet for worship and religious instruction online in a virtual service.

Sonata Senior Living streams services on individual devices and helps residents participate in bible study groups using Zoom video conferencing.

Video conferencing tools are also used by Sonata’s lifestyle directors to keep residents connected to loved ones and family.

Need some more inspiration? To learn how Sonata Senior Living is keeping residents connected and engaged, contact us today → or schedule a virtual tour →

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