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Pandemic Pods Provide Safe Social Interaction for Seniors

As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to force shutdowns and mount increasing safety precautions, people of all ages, including seniors, are forming pandemic pods to combat winter isolation.

These pods are meant for small groups that want to remain social and agree on safety protocols to stay with one another, in person, for months at a time. With proper measures, it can be a great way to remain connected and treat the winter loneliness in a time where human interaction has become much less available for those in quarantine.

Psychologist Brenda Hartman calls attention to the mental toll COVID-19 has brought on countless people, along with the importance of maintaining compassion.

“COVID brings life and death right up in front of us, and when that happens, we have the opportunity to make crucial choices – the opportunity to take care of each other,” she said.

According to a CDC study, symptoms of anxiety disorder and depressive disorder increased considerably in the United States during April–June of 2020 in conjunction with stay-at-home and isolation guidelines.

Older adults have increasingly been forced to live alone or in isolated conditions due to the negative effects the virus causes for immune systems.

However, this demographic also needs dependable social contact, especially during the holiday season. This has made pandemic pods an attractive option for seniors.

When selecting a pod, especially for older adults, psychologists suggest connecting with others of similar interests and hobbies, such as from clubs or classes, or they can try creating a group.

But despite what our parents told us growing up, you don’t have to invite the whole class. The key is to keep pandemic pods small.

“You don't want it to get too big,” said Dr. Daniel Griffin, an infectious disease specialist at Columbia University Medical Center. “Just about 10 people or less. Beyond that, the risk is an issue.”

Another important element to selecting a pandemic pod is to find people who are reliable and trustworthy because any pod is only as safe as its most reckless member.

It’s important for pod participants to establish ground rules early on. These can focus on interactions outside the pod, guidelines regarding masks among pod members, and informing others of any non-pod activities such as shopping.

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