Community is key: How to help our older population during the pandemic

When it comes to coronavirus, the older population are among those facing the most challenges and an increased risk of severe illness due to underlying health conditions. In June 2020, the Office for National Statistics reported that more than 46,000 people had died from coronavirus in England and Wales, and that more than 4 in 5 of those people were aged 70 or over.

This means that the older generation have to be much more cautious by staying home and reducing social contact. For a lot of elderly people, this can be a lonely and isolating time… Here are a few ways you can help to support them and boost their spirits.

1. Keep in touch

Loneliness and social isolation were common among the older population even before the pandemic, and so now more than ever it is important to make sure they feel involved. Not being able to see loved ones can be especially upsetting for the elderly, so if you have the means to do so, teach them to use video chats on a smartphone or laptop.

Encourage family members like grandchildren, nieces and nephews to video call whenever they can to maintain interaction and boost their mood. If you do have children in the family, get them to make cards or drawings for your elderly relative as a personal touch to show you’re thinking of them.

2. Be friendly

Quite a few elderly people are not lucky enough to have big families or relatives that live close by, so if there’s an elderly neighbour who spends a lot of time alone, give them a wave or have a little conversation! Stopping to talk to them in the street and letting them know they can contact you if they need anything can really help them feel less isolated.

It might not seem like much, but if that’s their only interaction for the day it’ll put a smile on their face and help them feel a part of the community.

3. Lend a hand

If you know an elderly person who’s having to isolate or is nervous about leaving the house, offer to help with tasks such as shopping, posting letters or picking up prescriptions. Falling behind on errands like these can be detrimental to their health, so try to help wherever you can.

As well as practical support, why not add a personal touch by taking round an extra plate of home-cooked food a couple times a week? That way, you’ll know they’re getting the nutrients they need and they’ll feel cared for.

4. Keep yourself well to protect them

As the older population are more susceptible to severe illness, if you’re coming into contact with an elderly relative or member of the community, it is important to take all the precautions to ensure you don’t become infected yourself.

Avoid crowds, wash and sanitise your hands regularly and don’t ignore any possible symptoms. If you feel like you may be infected, companies such as Myhealthchecked provide at-home covid test kits  that can give results in 48 hours, providing a quick and easy peace of mind that you’re not putting a vulnerable person in any danger.

The elderly are especially vulnerable right now, so let’s do everything we can to support them.

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