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Northwest Colorado Health: Simple ways for older adults to stay active and connected at home

Jaclyn McDonald
For Steamboat Pilot & Today
Journaling or memoir writing is a great way to keep your mind active while spending time at home.
Courtesy photo

For older adults and those at higher risk of COVID-19, staying active at home and engaging with your family, friends and community can help combat social isolation and loneliness. 

“Now more than ever, it’s important for older adults to make an extra effort to engage in social and physical activities,” said Meg Tully, aging services coordinator for Northwest Colorado Health. “This means more telephone time and perhaps learning how to use the computer to see friends and family and to join exercise classes online. These activities help our minds and bodies to remain active and vibrant, facilitating our sense of purpose and enhancing a positive perspective.”

At-home exercises

Exercise will help boost your immune system, increase strength and balance to reduce risk of falls, and improve your quality of life. Try the following simple exercises.

  • Build leg and arm strength. Using the arms of a chair as support, press down on the chair arms while pressing heels into the ground and lift yourself up out of the chair, then sit back down. Start with repetitions of five and work up to 10 times, every day. 
  • Sit in a chair with a straight back, inhale deeply as you raise your arms upward, and then slowly exhale as you lower your arms. This helps with lung capacity and keeps the brain oxygenated for clearer thinking. Do this several times a day.
  • Go outside for some fresh air. Walk around your yard for 10 or 15 minutes or do light yard work.  

Keep your mind active

  • Keep your brain fresh with crossword puzzles, Sudoku or reading a good book. Try to challenge yourself by counting backward from 50, by six.   
  • Start a journal or practice memoir writing. Memoir writing sounds intimidating, but the best way to start recording your stories is to journal regularly. Start with a different prompt or question each day. Write about your childhood best friend; describe a cherished place from your life like a home, vacation spot, school, etc.; or a favorite family tradition. 
  • Check out the free library resources — e-books, audiobooks and more – or start a virtual book club with friends and family.  

Stay connected

  • Check in with friends and family regularly. Whether it’s through video chats, phone calls or letters, most of us have more time now to catch up.
  • Find online communities with people who share your passions or interests. There are many free classes and videos available online. Whether it’s cooking, painting or gardening many organizations are sharing free resources and content to try at home. 
  • Learn more about the services and programs that Routt County Council on Aging continues to provide, such as meal and grocery delivery. Call 970-879-0633 or visit rccoaging.org.

Now is also a great time for community members of all ages to support our older adults. Try some of the following activities in your neighborhood or with loved ones who are sheltering in place to connect from a safe distance.

  • Walk your dog in front of the windows and practice new tricks. 
  • Hang homemade bird feeders, fun decorations, or leave messages with chalk outside. 
  • Have a parade outside the house — dance, play instruments or just march around. 

The Northwest Colorado Aging Services Coalition was recently formed to focus on priority issues for older adults in our area, including housing, transportation, social connection and communication/information. If you are interested in joining to help discover specific solutions to these problems, contact Meg Tully at mtully@northwestcoloradohealth.org or 970-846-4040. 

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Jaclyn McDonald is the marketing coordinator at Northwest Colorado Health. She can be reached at jmcdonald@northwestcoloradohealth.org or 970-871-7642.


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