It’s no secret that the COVID-19 outbreak is putting a huge strain on everyone, as we follow social distancing and self isolation measures in line with the Government’s recommendations.
Those over 70, and those with underlying health conditions, face ever stricter measures – being advised to self isolate for 12 weeks to keep themselves safe.
Although recommended to protect their health and well-being, there’s no doubt that many elderly and vulnerable people throughout the country face a lonely time. Particularly if they live alone.
Relatives and loved ones may also feel guilty and helpless having to keep their distance from their elderly family and friends.
We wanted to share some tips of ways to try and help people manage loneliness during these 12 weeks and feel that they are doing something to support their elderly family, friends and neighbours.
Conversation – giving an elderly loved one a call is one of the simplest ways to stay connected during the period of self isolation. If you have siblings and children, perhaps create a rota of who will be calling when. That way, everyone isn’t trying to get through at the same time and your elderly parent or relative has a steady stream of communication. Even if you don’t feel you have any news to share, just hearing your voice will make a huge positive difference to their day.
Use technology – if your loved one has a smartphone, try using video calling apps such as Skype, WhatsApp or FaceTime. It may well be that they haven’t used such apps before (as they have never had the need before) but now is the time to encourage them to learn how. Whilst on the phone with them, you could try talking them through creating an account and explain how it works. If this isn’t something they would like to try, they could try email as a new way of feeling connected with people they want to talk to.
Shopping – picking up shopping for your loved one is a fundamental way of helping them to stay connected with the world. Having access to the things they like to eat and the products they like to use makes a big difference and helps things feel a bit more normal. You could also offer to collect prescriptions from the pharmacy. When you drop the shopping round, the Government advice is to keep a distance of 2m.
Send post and write letters – the old ways can be the best! Write letters and cards to elderly relatives and people in your local community. If you have children at home, you could ask them to each make something to send to their grandparents or elderly relatives. Opening post like this feels very special and reminds elderly relatives that their family are still there and love them.
Encourage gentle exercise at home/in the garden – whilst avoiding any new, strenuous activity, encourage your elderly relatives to keep moving and getting fresh air as much as they can. Gentle work in the garden is a brilliant way of using muscles and also getting some fresh air and offers distraction. The NHS website also offers advice on exercises that can be done from home – such as these strength exercises and sitting exercises.
Good Oaks – extra services
Whilst we are facing COVID-19 as a nation, Good Oaks is offering some extra services to our home care clients to help them cope. We are offering a free shopping service, where we will organise a food delivery for our clients, and a free phone chat service if clients are feeling lonely and want to talk.
This is a time where we all need to pull together in our communities, helping each other through an unprecedented and challenging time.