The Importance of Social Distance for Older Adults

Whether it’s during flu season or during the outbreak of a global pandemic, there is always value in learning about the importance of social distancing. Because seniors often depend on others for care, social distancing for elderly adults can present its own unique set of challenges. But you can take the first steps to overcome those problems by learning more about social distance and how it can help seniors stay safe.Image of social distancing written with wooden blocks

The Importance of Social Distance

When you’re suffering from a cold or flu virus, it’s usually rather easy to infect the people around you. Without a second thought, you might rub your face, and then open the door to a local café. That’s essentially the same as shaking hands with everyone in your community.

However, a considerable amount of transferable disease is avoidable when people follow some of the basic principles of social distance. But what is social distance? There are essentially three main rules to social distancing:

  1. Stay at least 6-feet apart from others when possible.
  2. Don’t gather in big groups.
  3. Avoid crowded places.

If you shake hands with someone who’s suffering from a cold, you just might catch their cold. But in some cases, merely close proximity and breathing the same air can lead to contagion. That’s why when it’s possible, you want to keep a distance of about six feet from others.

If you grabbed three random people off the street, the probability one of them has some kind of transmissible cold/flu virus would not be very high. But if you grabbed 100 people, the odds would be much higher. Moreover, crowded places make it harder to keep distance from others. That’s why it’s important to avoid crowded places and not gather in large groups.

Social Distancing & Finding Alternatives

Following social distancing guidelines doesn’t mean you have to become a recluse. It’s important to know the difference between quarantine and isolation. But there are some common-sense steps that people can take to start reducing their own risks. For example, you might consider doing banking online instead of heading to your local branch, using a grocery delivery service instead of visiting the grocery store or even having mail-ordered medications arranged.

Social distancing doesn’t mean you have to stop going out and enjoying life, but you might consider eating at less crowded restaurants, visiting a store when fewer people are around, or waiting a few weeks before seeing a popular film at the theatre. And if you do get sick, wearing a face mask and continuing to regularly wash your hands can be a great way to help prevent others from becoming ill.

Social Distancing and Senior Risks

Seniors are at greater risk for depression, largely because they’re at risk of social isolation. Without caution, otherwise healthy social distancing practices can make those problems more severe. During times of pandemic when social distancing is necessary, it’s important to reach out to loved ones who are in isolation.

Even the most introverted people in the world still have needs for social interaction. And when those needs aren’t being met, there are inevitable consequences on that person’s mental and physical health. Anytime social distancing is being practiced, you might also want to learn about identifying social isolation and depression in elderly adults, and what you can do to help an elderly family member deal with depression.