How to Stay Connected While Keeping Your Distance

network of many people

For some people, even the thought of being confined indoors is unsettling. Good news—if you do not have any symptoms of coronavirus, cold, flu, or other infectious condition, you do not need to go stir-crazy! Here are some ideas for outdoor activities that are safe, as long as you don’t encounter a group of people:

  • Eating out—restaurants and coffee shops have been closed for on-site dining but many now offer orders to go, drive-thru windows and/or delivery.
  • Gardening—spring has nearly sprung, and daffodils, tulips, trees, and shrubs are either in full bloom or ready to burst. Weeds are growing, too. Yes, you can go outside and work in your garden, or go for a walk and enjoy your neighbors’ gardens. For inspiration, watch Spring gardening tips with Ciscoe Morris (video) or check out this list of botanical gardens.
  • Get to know your neighbors—you may need them one day, or they may need you. No problem chatting over the fence or out in the street—maintain a healthy 10’ distance.
  • Walks and hikes—for many, appreciating the great outdoors means a long walk or a hike. Ready for an adventure? See the list of local walks and hikes here (Seattle | King County).

If you do stay indoors, there’s a wealth of online information that can keep you entertained for weeks, including:

  • Library resources—physical sites are closed, but both Seattle Public Library and King County Library System offer a ton of resources online for those with a library card, including books, magazines, newspapers, genealogical resources, trainings, and more.
  • Live broadcastsSeattle Symphony has been live-streaming concerts. Sign up for notifications. A list of other live-streaming concerts is available here. Others are following suit—google your favorite for more information.
  • Local arts and entertainment—Seattle Channel offers a wealth of local programming. Use their YouTube station if you need captioning. Similarly, King County TV offers online programming.
  • Virtual tours—twelve museums around the world offer virtual tours (click here).
  • Learn something new—explore YouTube videos on topics of interest to you. With more than five billion videos, chances are you’ll find several choices, even on an obscure topic. While you’re there, subscribe to the Aging King County YouTube station and click on the bell to receive notifications when we have posted something new.
  • Get social online—if you haven’t used social media before, now is a good time to start. It’s free and easy—just pick a screen name and password. Search for your friends and neighbors. Here are Aging King County’s social media accounts—we encourage you to connect: Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | LinkedIn | Instagram
  • Get to know Age Friendly Seattle—see their websiteFacebook page, and Twitter feed, as well as their YouTube feed.
  • Phone calls—make it a goal to call one other adult every day.
  • Binge-watch your favorite TV shows and movies—under the circumstances, without guilt!
  • Volunteer—yes, even from afar. Donate blood, if you are eligible to do so. If you are part of a faith community, check in by phone or e-mail. Many are practicing social distancing but going to great lengths to reach out to isolated members of the community, and others are involved in social justice initiatives that support people most in need. Local nonprofits, including senior centers, may have home-based volunteer projects you can do (e.g., cooking, data entry), and many have set up phone trees to check on neighbors in need. Call them! Or use—select categories that interest you to get a list of potential volunteer activities in your area.
  • Writing—when did you last have time to write? Write letters (or send e-mail messages) to old friends to reconnect. Write your memoir—long or short, it will be treasured by others in the future. Trouble getting started? Find a photo you like—recent or old, doesn’t matter—and write about it. Who or what is in the photo? Why did you select it? Why is it meaningful to you?

These are just a few of the ways you can reframe self-quarantine in the coming weeks. If you have other suggestions, please feel free to e-mail them to

Please note that circumstances are changing daily. Please check the website for any of the physical sites listed above, to know if they are still open. If in doubt, call to confirm.

Ideas listed in this article were compiled by staff at Aging and Disability Services, the Area Agency on Aging for Seattle & King County. Have aging or disability issues? Contact Community Living Connections (toll-free) at 1-844-348-5464.

This article originally appeared in the March 18, 2020 special edition of AgeWise King County