Local seniors suffer from ‘COVID fatigue’

Southside senior centers offer advice on coping with long-term social distancing

By Nancy Price

Despite 10 months of consistent use of masks, social distancing and diligent use of hand sanitizer during those rare times outside our homes, COVID-19 cases are rising to the highest levels we’ve seen yet. We don’t know when we can get “back to normal,” and we’re suffering from “COVID fatigue.”

“Watching the news, reading the paper and talking to family on the phone is the only glimpse of the outside world right now, and it’s been that way for almost a year,” said Stephanie Bramlett, director of seniors at Elton H. Geshwiler Senior Center.

Zoom calls, social media and text messaging provide some comfort, yet many senior citizens are confused about modern technology and greatly prefer seeing their friends and family in person.

Santa with staff and friends of Elton H. Geshwiler Senior Center in Beech Grove. (Submitted photos)

“So many things have changed, and technology is being used in places where personal interaction is preferred,” said Melissa Johnson, executive director of Perry Senior Citizens Services. “Many seniors are not familiar with Zoom, apps and websites. They are being scheduled for phone or virtual appointments where they are more comfortable with face to face (interaction). Some don’t have access to technology and/or don’t know how to use what they have in the ways they are being asked.”

Bramlett advises homebound seniors to stay active, both mentally and physically. “Bundle up while we are snow- and ice-free, get outside for a few minutes every nice day we have,” she said. “Just walk to the end of your drive and back. Work your mind and keep it sharp. Work your word search, crossword puzzles, push full speed ahead on those quilts or afghans for your local senior center or church that always ask you for a donation for their raffles. Reach out and become a pen pal to someone in the service. Make a daily list, and do your best to complete it.”

Bramlett and Johnson both suggest picking up the phone to call their friends and family. As well, “we are happy to assist with learning how to use their mobile phones, tablets, computers, etc.,” Johnson said. “I know it is hard for many seniors to ask for help but during these trying times, it is a necessity. There are so many people willing and able to lend a hand if they know the need exists. They can always call us at Perry Senior Citizens Services, and we will try to be a resource for their needs.”

S. Bramlett.

Perry Senior Citizens Services is presenting its first virtual event on Jan. 29 at 7 p.m. “Take Control in the New Year” is a toolkit to better manage arthritis in 2021. Dr. Sarah Thomas will teach attendees about arthritis basics, pain relief and Arthritis Foundation resources. The first 20 registered attendees will receive a $10 Walmart gift card. Learn more and register at cutt.ly/FhZwLqO.

For information about additional services and activities at Perry Seniors, please call (317) 783-9231 or go to perryseniors.org. For the Elton H. Geshwiler Senior Center in Beech Grove, call (317) 788-4987 or go to beechgrove.com/elton-h-geshwiler-senior-center.