Each week we’ve been checking in with you via our newsletter pulse surveys about topics that are important to you. We want to learn how you’re doing, how you’re adjusting to new routines, and what we can do to continue supporting your health journey. See what people had to say.
Whether it’s practicing social distancing, working remotely, losing a job or having limited access to resources, our day-to-day routines have been interrupted. While some people embrace change with open arms, others can find it hard to adjust.
We wanted to hear about your new normal—what’s changed, good or bad, and how you’re making the most of it.
The most obvious interruption is in our friendships. We know relationships are important, to have someone to count on, to offer stability and help us feel better. But did you also know relationships can help reduce loneliness and isolation by making us feel included?
While practicing social distancing, our daily interactions have taken the hardest hit. Our survey showed 3x as many seniors now feel they often lack companionship as well as feel isolated compared to before COVID-19 pandemic. Feeling isolated or a lack of friendships can have a major impact on health, comparable to smoking 15 cigarettes per day, according to Brigham Young University research.
So, what’s causing the large uptick in feelings of isolation in such a short span of time? It’s simple: our inability to visit friends and family. We’re used to coming and going as we please and having conversations with our family, friends, neighbors or even the mailman.
Creating social connections
Despite this interruption in our routine, many of you are finding new and creative ways to stay connected to friends and family both near and far.
Getting to know neighbors better … from a distance, of course
“I purchased a projector and screen so friends and family in my neighborhood can watch movies outside!”
“We live in a cul du sac. Each family brings chairs, dinner or refreshments to the end of their driveway and we all talk across the cul du sac.”
“Our neighbors meet several times a week outside, 6 ft away, for a happy hour. We are fortunate that we can do it outside. We bring our own chair and a beverage. It is helping us.”
Giving back to the community
“I volunteered to make masks for the local hospital. Gives me a sense of purpose and worth.”
“We are making homemade protective masks for people who work in essential services other than healthcare (grocery stores, communications, etc). Will do for hospitals when they want them.”
“We are sewing simple surgical type face masks and other face masks for our community and medical staff. It is keeping the sewers in our community busy and feeling good about helping in this difficult time. We are all sewing alone and dropping off and picking up materials on our front porches.”
Video calls are a great tool to keep in touch with people. Many of you mentioned you’ve learned how to use daily video calls or live streaming to stay connected. Three–quarters said you’ve used live-video applications to help replace in-person interactions.
“Spend one hour every day on FaceTime teaching grandchildren (7&9) geography lessons. We’re covering the United States, one state at a time.”
“Reading books to grandchildren every night before bed.”
“My good friends & book club gals and I stream each other and use our group chat to connect often. They are wonderful!”
“Hearing from friends and family who live a distance away and with whom I don’t often have a chance to have extended conversations.”
“My adult son has been in touch with me much more frequently. Almost every day instead of once every month or so.”
In addition to keeping in touch, videos are a great way to start new workout routines. Of those who said you were using video calls or live streaming, 83% were using it for exercise. That’s a 2.3x increase since before COVID.
With video exercises, you can stop and start at any time. Many of you mentioned you enjoyed the “at your own pace” feature of online videos and being able to closely watch the instructor to be able to re-create the moves.
Some of you are taking advantage of videos your participating locations are posting online. But you can also choose from a variety of workouts like cardio, strength training, dance or stretching on our SilverSneakers On–Demand™ library.
Not a SilverSneakers member but still want options for classes? Check out our Facebook Live weekly series that’s open to anyone. “Like” the SilverSneakers Facebook page to get updates on class times.
In the last four weeks we’ve had more than 1.3 million views with weekly attendance growing consistently. Can’t make the actual time of the live class? Catch replays on our Facebook page.
Don’t have Facebook but would still love to take part in live classes? We recently launched SilverSneakers LIVE, where members can enjoy full-length, live classes and workshops directly through our website. Create or log in to your account to see the class schedule.
Whether working out with technology or own your own, a whopping 93% of respondents said you’re doing some form of exercise to keep moving.
Of those who are exercising, 65% of you said that with the warmer temps approaching, you’re taking your exercise outdoors. The most popular activities were walking, biking and gardening. One creative member even started using their outdoor hot tub for water aerobics exercises to replace their class at the gym.
In addition to the benefits of getting the blood flowing and burning calories, exercise is also great for reducing stress, which has definitely increased over the past month.
We know change is hard, especially when we’re not sure when things will get back to normal. Three to four times as many members stated they experience stress or anxiety every day, compared to before COVID began.
Despite this striking increase, an overwhelming amount of people shared that this has forced them to prioritize what’s important, focus on what they can control and appreciate all the good around them.
“Slowing down, realizing how grateful I am that today my family is well. Everyone in my family have jobs that can be done differently to stay well and that they are fully aware of the dangers of exposure. We are all pulling together helping my <family> continue to stay healthy. We are truly blessed.”
Others have decided to master the art of de-cluttering, which has been shown to have a positive impact on your health; finally complete those projects on the “to-do” list; and spend more quality time with significant others. A favorite pastime is cooking together.
Next to not being able to see people, the second biggest change people are feeling daily is around food and meals.
Many are shifting how you purchase food. Three times as many of you are using grocery delivery apps like Instacart, Amazon or local delivery instead of going into the store.
About one-fourth of you mentioned that you’ve slipped into unhealthy eating habits or are even eating more out of boredom. But 56% said you’re starting to enjoy more home-cooked meals over takeout and look forward to trying new healthy recipes. Whether you want to lose weight or just have a healthier diet, we offer recipes and even some quick videos showing how to prepare dishes.
We recognize that people on a fixed income may not be able to stock up on multiple weeks of food as recommended. With so many Americans staying home, grocery stores have had shortages of many pantry staples, which can make shopping difficult. Among survey respondents, 19% said you worried about having enough food to last or being able to get more.
Some of you are contributing by providing meals for distribution to those in need or even cooking meals for older neighbors. Here are some additional ways you can help:
- Check on a neighbor who can’t leave the house to see if they need anything:
- Offer to take their list and shop for them.
- Pick up their groceries if they were able order online.
- If money is an issue and you feel comfortable, purchase a gift card to their favorite grocery store or restaurant for delivery.
- If you don’t know anyone personally who needs help but still want to contribute, donate to a food bank or pantry.
Thank you to everyone who participated in our weekly Pulse Surveys. If you’d like to participate in our next round of surveys, watch for the May newsletters.
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