For seniors, keeping themselves safe from COVID-19 is paramount, since they are more vulnerable than most to the illness, especially if they have preexisting medical conditions like heart or lung disease.

At the same time, staying intellectually engaged and socially connected is critical for seniors in order to avoid the negative effects of isolation like anxiety, depression and even immunosuppression.

While in-person visits are not currently permitted at Golden West, we’ve come up with some creative ways, both real and virtual, seniors can stay happy and engaged while remaining in their apartments and adhering to social distancing rules.

Take a class

Educational websites like Senior Planet offer virtual events and classes so you can learn new skills and stay stimulated, while enjoying the company of other seniors tuning in from all over the country.

Watch a movie together

Use a streaming service like Netflix Party or Metastream to converse with friends and family while watching your favorite movies together in real-time.

Set up a FaceTime call

Set up FaceTime video phone calls with family and friends, or try Zoom or Google Hangouts on your laptop, smartphone or tablet. Being able to see and speak to the person at the same time lends a new level of connectivity to the interaction.

Observe animals in nature and zoos

Home Entertainment Ideas for Social Distancing Seniors

Check out the Cincinnati Zoo’s daily Facebook Live video streams of Fiona the Hippo, or Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium penguins. Or visit Explore.org, which carries live camera feeds of animals in nature from around the world.

Host a book club

Each week choose a book for your family members and friends to read. Then, at the end of the week, schedule a Zoom video chat session to discuss what you’ve read.

Have an online gaming competition

To stay intellectually stimulated via friendly competition with family and friends, find multiplayer games like Battleship and Bridge on interactive gaming websites, or download mobile apps like Words with Friends.

Try out a recipe

Look up one of your favorite homecooked recipes and try it out in your apartment kitchen. Have your family and friends do the same, then schedule a virtual mealtime on Zoom of FaceTime!

Check out guided meditations

For relaxation, check out guided meditations available on the internet. There are a wealth of options out there, including channels like Joanne D’Amico’s Relax for a While, Boho Beautiful and The Honest Guys.

Attend religious services

Get set up to attend local religious services online, via FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, Skype or Zoom, depending on the medium used by your place of worship.

Take a nostalgic journey

Organize old photos and memorabilia in your home and discuss the happy stories and memories they inspire with your family, whether by phone, text or video communication.

Get reading with Project Gutenberg

With Project Gutenberg, you can use the internet to access thousands of classic books. If you’re looking for a new read, try visiting the online library of over 60,000 free e-books in the public domain.

Experience virtual travel

Visit Smithsonian Magazine’s virtual travel home page to tour destinations around the world, or look up Google’s virtual tours of five U.S. National Parks, where a local ranger will take you through the Kenai Fjords in Alaska, Utah’s Bryce Canyon, New Mexico’s Carlsbad Caverns and more.

Take a museum tour

Go online for a free virtual tour of exhibits within the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the British Museum in London, the Vatican Museum in Room, the Louvre in Paris and more.

Stream live music

How about some live music? Go online and tap into concerts from around the world, including The Quarantine Soirees (Budapest Orchestra), The Metropolitan Opera and Broadway shows.

Volunteer remotely

Try connecting with a nonprofit, school, church or political party to make phone calls or write letters on the organization’s behalf. Giving back to the community is a good way to boost your spirits.