The global coronavirus pandemic has pushed most of us into our homes, making connecting with others a bit more difficult than it was just a few months ago. For older adults who are living at home, this time can feel especially isolating. Fortunately, technology offers plenty of ways to combat loneliness. You just have to know where to look and what to download.
Dangers of Isolation and Loneliness
Right now, the safest thing for all of us to do is to practice social distancing. Some states are also encouraging residents to shelter in place, leaving their homes only for exercise and essential travel. However, even though it is the safest thing to do, isolation can get lonely awfully fast.
Older adults are especially vulnerable to the dangers of social isolation, even before the COVID-19 pandemic arrived. Research from the National Institute on Aging has demonstrated that socially isolated seniors are at a higher risk for conditions like anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
The good news? Though you may be at home alone or with a partner, you don’t have to be socially isolated. You can continue to connect with your friends and loved ones via phone calls, text messages, video chats, and online games. Here are a few of our favorite online games you can use to play with friends, family, and strangers that will keep your mind sharp.
Words with Friends
Similar to Scrabble, this online word game is available via an app for both Android and iPhone. Invite your friends to play with you so that you can attempt to outscore one another. Don’t worry if you don’t remember the intricacies of Scrabble: Words with Friends is easy to pick up and you’ll learn strategy along the way.
This game is typically played in person, but we love it because it is easy to play during video calls. Download the app and then others give clues about the word you are holding on your phone.
A family favorite and one you can play with friends of all ages is the classic UNO! Download the game, brush up on your skills, and challenge friends to play with you.
Speaking of classics, Yahtzee Party! is an online version of the favorite dice game. Each game takes less than 10 minutes to play because you don’t take turns rolling the dice. Instead, you are rolling at the same time as your friends and the scores are revealed at the end of the game. You can chat in an in-game chat box as well.
Brush up on your financial skills by playing this board game online with pals. The rules are similar, which means you’ll be able to catch on quickly.
If you have elementary school- or junior high-age grandkids, try playing Minecraft with them online. They will love teaching you how to build cities and other creations, and you’ll get the chance to connect with them in a new way.
Euchre, Hearts, or Other Card Games
If you are a card shark, you can play your favorites with friends online using sites like CardzMania. We love rummy 500, euchre, and hearts, but there are plenty of choices so that you can find your favorites.
Though online games with friends aren’t exactly as good as sitting down at your best friend’s dinner table, it is definitely the next best thing to keep you feeling connected with others. It is wise, though, to remember good online safety guidelines. During your time online, remember to never share passwords or personal information with anyone. It’s also smart to create usernames that are not your full, real name, but are instead a nickname you can share with your friends so that they can find you on these sites. Finally, ensure that you are taking time away from your screen to drink plenty of water, eat healthy foods, and move your body.
If you’re looking for more ideas for keeping your mind and body moving while social distancing, download our free guide: “The Busy Person’s Guide to Recreation in Retirement.” Many of the ideas included in the guide can be adapted to recommendations during this unprecedented time.
Until we can all gather with our friends around our kitchen tables, let’s commit to gathering virtually to stay connected and to stay healthy. Enjoy your virtual parties!