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How to Fight Loneliness and Connect During COVID-19 (Without Zoom)

There’s no doubt many of us are missing our old lives right about now. Social distancing will likely continue for a bit longer, even as more people get vaccinated. And with monthly get-togethers, birthday parties, and the like on hold, we’re still missing the human connection we so badly need. Because we’re human, after all. 

Fortunately, we have options for long-distance communication - but the video calls are getting a little old, aren’t they? It was fun for a while, but the virtual backgrounds never really work and someone’s video is always cutting out. Besides, there’s just some level of connection that’s missing. 

Build Your Social Wealth to Combat Loneliness in Retirement

Unfortunately, older adults are at higher risk for both COVID-19 and for loneliness. In a time when worries and stress are high, we need each other more than ever. Yet for many retirees, the pandemic has meant far fewer visits with friends and family. 

Loneliness and isolation have serious implications for short-and long-term health. They increase our risk for a variety of chronic illnesses as well as dementia. Affect our ability to sleep. And rob us of the very experiences and connections that make life wonderful. 

That just means giving up is not an option. Instead, all of us, and especially seniors, need to get creative about building and nurturing our relationships. But instead of fighting your way through the Zoom fatigue, here are some other ideas for safe social time.

7 Ways to Connect Without Zoom 

Masked Outdoor Hangouts

Surely, you’ve done the walk and talks. The CDC deems outdoor activities safer, as long as you stay 6 feet apart. Walking gives you a chance to talk about feelings and process the upheaval of the last 12 months, and counting. And getting the blood flowing will almost always lift your mood.

If you feel the need to mix it up, you can head to one of Denver’s national parks or go cycling (check for COVID-19 restrictions or closures first). To make the habit stick, make it a weekly date. Having something to look forward to is part of the fun!

Neighborhood Baking Collective or Meal Exchange 

We’re all cooking at home more—we might as well share! Make a big pot of vegetarian chili and take some to the neighbors or show off your new gluten-free cinnamon roll recipe. You can plan a contact-free drop and wave from the sidewalk. It’s amazing how a small thing can be such a pick-me-up. And those who have kids at home while they’re also working from home are sure to be thankful.  

You can get formal with this and create a signup sheet. Or keep it casual—pop by with extras of whatever you’re making. Be sure to check with whoever you’re visiting first, of course, and discuss your plan for a safe dropoff. 

Cocktail of the Week

Get a group of 5-10 friends together and assign each person a week. At the beginning of the week, that person will email their favorite cocktail recipe to the group, complete with instructions and an ingredient list. Everyone buys those ingredients during the week and on Friday or Saturday, everyone makes the same cocktail. 

You don’t have to have a virtual happy hour, but you can compare notes, share pics, and riff on the recipes. At the end, put it up for a vote and award the “best cocktail”. While you can’t clink glasses and drink together, you can still have a shared experience.

Embrace Voice Memos

Texts sometimes fall flat or lack emotion, and video conferences are taxing for some. But audio messages may be just right. Voice memos let you share a little snippet of your day or send good wishes without having to schedule a phone call. 

How about that old college friend who lives a few states away? Trading voice messages can be a meaningful way to stay connected during the pandemic, even with timezone and schedule differences. You can record voice notes directly in the text feature of your iPhone. Additionally, Voxer, WhatsApp, and Viber all have audio messaging capabilities as do Facebook messenger and Instagram. 

Netflix and Chill Together 

Synchronized Netflixing has been a game-changer for long-distance couples, and now friend groups love it too. Thanks to Teleparty (a simple Google Chrome extension) you can sync up the movie playback and incorporate group chat. And it works with Netflix, Disney, Hulu, and HBO. Grab the popcorn!

Build a Group Playlist on Spotify

Do you and your friends love music? Spotify lets you create a collaborative playlist that everyone can add to. Add nostalgic songs from your college days, pick-me-up songs or whatever you want! You can get Spotify for iOS or Android, or use it on your computer. With the free account, you can add songs only from your computer. With premium, you can use your phone or computer.

Send Letters Or Postcards

Sending a hand-written card is an inexpensive way to brighten someone’s day (and support the USPS). You can order stamps and stationery online, make your own cards, or use old postcards you have lying around. Better yet, turn a photo into a magnet and send it to 10 friends or family members. 

If you ever had a pen pal growing up, now you can do it again with Penpalooza, a global postcard exchange with over 10,000 members. How about making a new friend from one of over 75 different countries?

Have Candid Talks About Coronavirus Precautions  

If you decide to meet with others, be prepared to have open conversations about social distancing, masks, and other precautions. People have different comfort levels and varying home situations - a friend may live with or be caring for someone in a risk group and need to be extra careful. Respect people's need for transparency and don’t be afraid to express your own needs as well. 

Wealth Legacy Institute knows that retirement isn’t just about the money. Retirement Secrets: Keys to Retiring Happy, Healthy, and Free helps you plan for living in retirement - not just saving for it! Order the book now.

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