While we’ve all been social distancing from one another, there’s been a lot of worry about how we keep ourselves connected but also safe. And while a lot of that concern has been around keeping our children entertained during these unusual times, there’s one group that’s been somewhat overlooked: senior citizens.
This is a population that lives largely alone and often use our facilities—our rec centers and YMCAs—as a place to socialize and make those human connections. What can we do to allow our senior citizens to still make those connections that they need while still staying safe, since they are a group at higher risk of complications if they were to contract the virus. We have a few ideas, and all they’ll need is a computer, smartphone or tablet with some kind of web conferencing software, like Zoom, Google Meets or Microsoft Teams installed.
Our first suggestion is to use this software just as it was intended, as a way for people in separate places to gather online. Of course you could have general group sessions for those seniors who are already acquainted. But better, especially if the people in the virtual meeting room aren’t acquainted, might be to organize these gatherings by age or interest. That way they are more familiar to have things in common with one another.
It’s also a good idea to have someone from your facility in the meeting room as well to kickoff the discussion, to move things along if they get stuck, or cool them down if they get too heated.
Online author visits
Authors love to talk about their books to audiences eager to listen. So much so that many are willing to travel a long way for the opportunity. What if you could give them that opportunity and eliminate the element of travel?
Many authors would be happy to chat with an engaged and interested group of readers no matter their age. Find someone local. Find someone far away. Set up the virtual appointment and invite your senior community to the event.
Organize the event far enough in advance and the author could send autographed copies of their book out to a select number of people. You can use these giveaways as an incentive to sign up to attend.
Who says you can’t still get together for a fun game night? While playing board games is more difficult there are still plenty of games you could use to entertain a crowd for a virtual gaming event.
- Trivia—Any kind of trivia game works really well online. All you need is a moderator, willing participants, and a stack of questions.
- Bingo—There’s a chance you were already hosting bingo games when it was possible to still gather in person. Well, keep those games going virtually. There are online tools you can use to virtualize this classic. Checkout myfreebingocards.com for virtual bingo cards.
- Scattergories—A classic group word-guessing game that translates really well to the online experience.
- Balderdash—The game of nonsense where you make up fake definitions to words and one person has to guess which definition belongs to whom. Again, the game play can easily transfer to the virtual world.
Crafting is a fun solitary event. It’s an even better group activity. And that’s still true if the group is meeting virtually. Again, we’d suggest finding a group leader for this event. Let that person pick the craft and send out a supply list before the event starts, so people will have time to gather needed supplies. Then, the day of the event, that host will be the person instructing the group on how to complete the craft.