Reach Out…Just Don’t Touch

Written By: Janet Teixeira, Executive Director of Cancer Care Connection


There’s a light at the end of the COVID-19 pandemic tunnel… but it’s still a ways off.

Cancer Care Connection’s team of Oncology Social Workers has some ideas, especially for older adults, to help you cope with the isolation many of us are experiencing.

Most importantly, they recommend reaching out to connect with others.

Maybe you’re asking, “Reach out to whom? How? Why?”

Whether you’re affected by COVID-19, cancer or another disease, or have a loved one limited by Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease, or simply feeling lonely, one thing is certain—human contact helps.  You’ll feel a lift in mood and energy from reaching out to someone…and so will they.

Here are some ideas for how to foster connections and community from afar, and take care of yourself and others during lockdown:

Find A Phone Pal.  Remember when we were kids and some of us had pen pals?  We’d be matched with someone from another town and write to them, maybe once a month.  How about finding a phone pal to get through this isolating time?  Think about some of the people you’d chat or pass the time with in your neighborhood or at your local community center. They don’t have to be your best friends, but maybe someone you know is alone, missing human contact as much as you are. Give them a call.

And check in regularly! You may have talked to others at least weekly before…why not now, over the phone?

Who’s Zoomin’ Who?  Have you tried zoom on your computer yet?  You might be surprised by how easy it is!  Zoom calls are perfect for breaking up isolation because you can actually see who you are talking to on the screen. To learn how to zoom, check with a grandchild, family member, or almost anyone who’s working…zoom is how students are learning and business is being conducted these days.

Speaking of grandchildren, think about re-introducing yourself to them or other family members by phone or zoom.  This pandemic gives you the perfect excuse to increase your contact with them… “I just thought I’d call to say ‘hi’ since I haven’t seen you in so long.”  Or “Just checking to make sure you’re still healthy.” Maybe you had experienced a little generation gap before this all started; the pandemic gives you reason to close that gap.

Stay fit. Remember, you can still take part in community or fitness center classes, they just may require you make an appointment before you go.  This is a great way to get out of the confines of your house and see some familiar faces…even if it’s from across the room.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Sometimes, asking for help is the hardest thing for us to do. We think we should be strong—we should be able to handle things, we need to be independent.  That’s a lot of pressure! And it hardly feels natural or possible to do so during the prolonged isolation caused by the pandemic. It’s perfectly okay—and highly encouraged—to invite people to connect or ask for help.

After so many months at home, maybe you don’t realize that many of the people you used to see regularly are still there and reachable by phone and email.  They would be glad to hear from you! Think about your religious leaders, your neighbors, or other people you could connect with—check in! Ask for help if you need it.

And if you need additional support, consider therapy. We know it’s tough to ask for help, especially from professionals, but mental health is just as important as physical health, especially during this odd and trying time. We are all facing so many new challenges and unknowns, and it’s no surprise that many of us are experiencing more anxiety and isolation than before. Luckily, Cancer Care Connection is now proudly affiliated with Jewish Family Services of Delaware, an organization which provides counseling and support services to individuals, families, community members, and caregivers. Their team of licensed therapists, psychiatrists, a geriatrician, and case managers is trained to respond to community needs…and equipped to do so virtually during the pandemic! And, if you’re wondering, their services are available to everyone, regardless of your background.

Of course, Cancer Care Connection is also here to support those affected by cancer. You don’t even have to be a cancer patient yourself—maybe you’re caring for one, or have a loved one in another state, or a friend or neighbor affected by cancer…if you’re worried, would like to help, or have a question, call our Oncology Social Workers today at 302-266-8050.

Speaking of cancer…keep up with cancer screenings, like mammograms and colonoscopies. Be ready to take extra precautions to stay as safe as possible during the pandemic, but don’t put these important screenings off until COVID-19 is over.  Contact your healthcare provider to determine the safest way to continue getting the care you need.


Janet Teixeira, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, is the Executive Director of Cancer Care Connection. If you or a loved one are looking for help navigating cancer and related stressors, connect with an Oncology Social Worker today at 302-266-8050.

Want to explore therapy with a trusted team of professionals? Learn more about Counseling at JFS or start your therapy journey today by submitting an online intake form. Contact our Intake Department at 302-478-9411 x306 or if you have any questions.