Stay at Home Tips: What to do if you live alone

See more Extension Stay at Home Tips from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension

For reliable information you can trust about COVID-19 go to


What to do if you live alone

So many of us live by ourselves. But as we practice social distancing living alone can begin to feel lonely. Social distancing really means physical distancing, or staying away from other people. Social isolation and loneliness can be bad for our health, but there are many ways to stay socially connected with friends and family, even if you are not able to visit them in person.

How do we cope with this new mode of living in a way that maintains our well-being? 

Stay connected

  • Make a phone call. 
  • Write letters.
  • Video chat with friends, family and neighbors.
  • Help others by calling to check in on older children who may be alone while parents or guardians are at work.
  • Get creative . Video conference a family dinner or a game night, or visit a virtual museum together over the phone.
  • If you have a smartphone or tablet, try a new app! Technology can help you stay connected in fun, new ways.
  • Talk about more than just the weather. Reminisce about a family photo, pull out an old joke book, practice asking meaningful questions.
  • Brainstorm a list of people that you could reach out to and make a plan to do so.

Take good care of yourself

Most important:  If you need medical care or advice, stay home and call your doctor or clinic. If you have an emergency, call 911. If you become sick or feel unwell, make sure a family member or friend knows that you are unwell and ask them to check on you by phone or video chat every day. 

  • Get outdoors as much as you can. Sit on your porch, go for a walk, work in your yard, or plant a container garden.
  • Maintain a regular routine, including mealtimes and bedtimes.
  • Find ways to share your skills and talents from a distance. Services like VolunteerMatch can help you find local opportunities you can help with from home. Or make a call to a local school, community center, or organization to learn how you can help from home.
  • Perform random acts of kindness. Send notes or cards to a local residential care facility, make a donation to a local food bank or shelter, or send a note or letter of gratitude to someone in your life.
  • Begin or continue a gratitude practice. Make a list of things you are thankful for, or send a note or letter of gratitude to someone in your life.
  • Consider a new hobby or revive an old one. Try learning a new language, line dancing or playing bridge online.
  • Check some things off your to do list. Organize those family photos or clean out those closets.
  • Try to move your body every day in ways that are safe for you.
  • It’s OK to ask for help. If you are feeling distressed, call the National Disaster Distress Helpline (800-985-5990) for emotional support, or call 2-1-1 and ask about your county’s emotional support hotline.

Get organized

Post a contact list on your fridge or near your phone:

  • Name and phone number of your doctor and pharmacy
  • Family contacts
  • Neighbors
  • Other frequently called numbers

Know where to find resources to get help meeting your needs:

Explore more COVID-19 resources

Know the basics about COVID-19

FOR RELIABLE INFORMATION YOU CAN TRUST, about staying safe and what to do if you have COVID-19 symptoms, go to

What are the symptoms? Not everyone with COVID-19 has all of these symptoms. For many, symptoms are mild, with no fever. It is important to know that you can still spread (transmit) the virus to others even if you have mild or no symptoms. Two to 14 days after exposure, people may experience:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Body or muscle aches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

What should I do if I develop symptoms?

If you become ill, stay home and call your doctor if you feel you need medical care or advice. If you are having an emergency, call 911. 

  • Each day, write down your symptoms so you can share accurate information with your doctor. 
  • Make sure a family member or friend knows that you are unwell and ask them to check on you by phone or video chat every day. Even mild illnesses can quickly take a turn for the worse.
  • Practice good self-care. Get lots of rest and drink plenty of fluids.

How can I lower my risk of getting COVID-19?

  • Stay home as much as possible to protect yourself and others.
  • When possible, shop for two weeks of groceries at a time to expose yourself less often.
  • Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds especially after using the bathroom, before eating, and after touching door handles, keypads, pens, and other frequently used surfaces.


  • Call the National Disaster Distress Helpline to speak to a trained crisis counselor
    • 800-985-5990
    • 800-846-8517 (TTY)
    • Or text:  TalkWithUs to 66746
  • Access information and resources to help you meet your immediate needs
    • Call 2-1-1
    • Contact your local Aging and Disability Resource Center


See more UW-Madison Division of Extension Stay at Home Tips 



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