As COVID-19 continues to present a frustrating public health issue this summer, many of us are feeling challenged by the advice to remain at home and socially distanced as much as possible from our local communities. It’s true that stores and restaurants are beginning to open up, and we’re starting to get out and about more often. However, large local community events and gatherings remain canceled, and it’s clear that “getting back to normal” may still be a long way off.
Here at Homestead Village, our THRIVE WHERE YOU ARE® philosophy promotes ways for older adults to stay connected with all the important people, places, and pursuits in their lives. And with that in mind, we have been offering helpful articles and practical advice here on our blog throughout this difficult period to help you pick up some new tech skills and creative ideas to make staying at home easier.
Today’s post builds on some of the tips and tricks we offered up back in April 2020 for staying connected remotely to our friends, family, and other loved ones who don’t happen to share the same house, apartment, or other living space with us. Many of those ideas had to do with learning to embrace new technology resources to connect, and we’re now giving you even more “connected” resources to explore.
Discover how to keep up with happenings in your local community through your smartphone, computer, or tablet device now!
Chances are, you’ve been on Facebook for a while now. It’s such a great way to keep in touch with family and friends who may be scattered across the country or the world and share everything from recipes to old photos. But have you heard about Facebook Groups?
For every hobby, cause, and pursuit you can think of, there’s probably already a group organized around that topic. You can think of them like online clubs, and some may have an application or request submission process to join. This helps to make sure that only people who are genuinely interested in a particular topic are allowed to take part in conversations.
Many Facebook Groups are location-based, as well. Your town or city probably has several groups just devoted to keeping up with nearby happenings and news. If you live in a suburban area—or on campus at a retirement community like Homestead Village—you may even find groups just for residents. Some families and workplaces also have their own groups!
One of the great things about Facebook Groups, though, is that if one does not yet exist for the community of people you want to connect with, you can start the group yourself. Of course, starting a group often comes with moderator duties, and you’ll want to set up rules and standards for yours. This can be a fun process, and you can invite others to help you moderate, too.
As we mentioned in the previous section, locality-based Facebook Groups can offer a great way to connect with your neighbors. However, there are a few popular standalone apps that can help neighborhoods keep in touch online, too.
One of these is Nextdoor, which bills itself as “your local hub to connect and share with the neighborhood.” And the app can help make your neighborhood safer and friendlier. Check out Nextdoor’s how-to article about getting started with the app. It’s free to join and presents a great way to get to know your neighbors even if you can’t socialize with them in person right now.
Additionally, Residents at Homestead Village enjoy a community app called TouchTown, where they can easily access calendars, menus, announcements, directories, and more!
In retirement, pursuing volunteer opportunities becomes significant for many. Here at Homestead Village, volunteering both on our campus and in the broader local Lancaster community is deeply important to many of our residents. With greater limitations on spending time away from home so far in 2020, staying committed to volunteerism has meant getting a little creative, however.
For instance, if you enjoy participating in political campaigns, that may mean making phone calls on behalf of a political candidate or cause instead of poll-watching or canvassing door-to-door. And instead of sorting donations and stocking shelves at your local food pantry, you might be helping with fundraising efforts online.
VolunteerMatch.org shares thousands of virtual volunteer opportunities on behalf of non-profits, or you can also check directly with organizations you enjoy supporting in your community. In Lancaster, the United Way of Lancaster County always has a listing of current volunteer needs, which includes virtual opportunities.
Each month so far this summer (through August), Homestead Village’s “community way partner,” Church of the Apostles, has been presenting themed activities for you and your family to enjoy in the church’s Rader Park, your own backyard, or another park or nature area near you. Weekly self-guided activities—such as Family Science in the Park—are posted on the church web site and public Facebook page, so be sure to check out the ideas and resources to safely go out and explore the wonders of nature and creation.
Many music teachers have started doing virtual music lessons, so now is a great time to start learning guitar, harp, or any instrument you’ve always wanted to learn! As we covered in our recent blog post about learning and enjoying new hobbies online, music is a pursuit that can be enjoyed just as easily from a distance as it can in person.
Virtual concerts are also being posted, and you can discover virtual music workshops, too, such as the Somerset Folk Harp Festival—and many more for the instrument of your choice. It’s never been easier to try something new from the comfort of your home!
We sincerely hope you are staying happy and healthy during this difficult time, whether you are one of our treasured Homestead Village Residents or part of our larger online community of friends and neighbors. If you have questions, please give us a call or contact us through HomesteadVillage.org.