Helping elders during COVID-19

Why elders are more vulnerable to COVID-19 and how we can help them

According to Campaign to End Loneliness, nearly half a million elders already experiencing protracted period of loneliness and isolation. COVID-19 outbreak is adding more problem to older people. Elders are most at risk from COVID-19. In Italy, China and other countries out of 10 deaths, nearly 8 deaths are reported have been adults who are 65+ years old.  Covid-19 is causing a huge issue worldwide for elders because their life has been switched from social engagement to distancing from social life.  This is the time to show our care, affection and support to elders.

Generally, elders are vulnerable to any such conditions. In addition, if they have any underlying medical conditions then the risk of getting infected and fatality is more. China’s data indicates that the great majority of cases were in elder people. Elders are at highest risk of respiratory illness that could lead to death.

How we can help elders during this outbreak?

  1. Explain the importance of hand hygiene and make sure they have soap, water and hand sanitizer.
  2. Keep a hand sanitizer bottle near their bed and where they generally sit – like next to their chair or sofa.
  3. Keep a flask filled with warm or hot water so that they have access for water if they get cough.
  4. Make sure elderly and vulnerable (including your neighbors) they have enough food at home. Help them to stock groceries, toilet papers and diapers. When you go on for shopping, let your elderly neighbors know and ask them what they might need.
  5. To boost immune system, provide proper nutrient foods and supplements.
  6. Picking up prescriptions or helping with errands is a great help for them. This avoids them to go out themselves and avoids risk of getting infected.
  7. If you see elders, ask them what help you can provide. Donate sanitary supplies and food if they are in need.
  8. Request local stores to reserve couple of shopping hours only for elders.
  9. In many countries’ Restaurants are closed for some time period. Offer home cooked food and bottled water to elders who live by themselves is a good idea.
  10. Give preference to elders at store. Because they cannot stand in queue or fight for items like youngsters. Help them to reach things. If you have bought something and an elder is looking for the same, then offer them that you have. You can always go back to the store to get things.
  11. If you see elders waiting in hospital in queue give them preference. This helps them to get less exposed to cough, cold or any such conditions.
  12. Keep your elders stress free. Stress leads to negative impact on immune system. Fear of COVID-19, fear of being dependent or neglect can cause more stress. Give them assurance of being there.
  13. If you are quarantined as per the rules and cannot meet your elders – pick up the phone and talk to them. This gives them sense of confidence and boosts their energy.
  14. Create online group including older people who use WhatsApp, Facebook, twitter etc. to share regular update, offer help and to make sure they are doing okay. Be mindful and do not spread panic on media.
  15. Mental health is an issue when there is no activity or movement. If impacts their physical wellbeing. Encourage them to be physically active, to attend to their hobbies like painting, knitting, reading, singing, listening to music etc.
  16. Tell elders to interact with nature like attending to house plants, watching birds through window, watching nature shows on TV etc.

We must remember that all of us will get old eventually and we can be in similar situation like present day elders. Helping them and taking care of those who are vulnerable and in need is what we should be doing because that is humanity.

Image credit: Maggie Connolly, Brooklyn NY (widow note image), Image by mage by truthseeker08 from Pixabay, Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay (free for commercial use)

Author: Sumana Rao | Posted on: April 5, 2021

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