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Although the novel coronavirus can affect anyone, the elderly are the most vulnerable. Worse, they develop a severe form of illness when they do contract the virus. This is because as people age, the immune system weakens. Coupled with other existing medical conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes, Covid-19 cases among the elderly may be life-threatening.
More than the physical health risk, the emotional well-being of older adults can be strained. It’s not just because of the fact that they’re susceptible, but that precautionary measures are essentially very isolating. This is why it’s crucial to support elderly folks during this time. Here are some ways you can help them:
Apply Social Distancing, But Avoid Isolation
Assumingly, there are fewer people coming to your home with enhanced community quarantines in place. But if you still have a few neighbors or nearby relatives going over at your place, it’s time to halt the mini gatherings altogether. Such visits only increase the risk of getting the infection. On the flip side though, do note that this social distancing can make older adults lonely or depressed. That’s why it’s important to give them safe avenues where they can still connect with others. Below are some good ideas:
- Video chats. Set up a laptop where they can talk to relatives whenever they want. If they’re still able, teach them how to use apps like Skype or Zoom and call people up.
- Counseling apps. Explore mental health apps where your parents or grandparents can talk about their feelings and process them with a professional. Maxicare’s From Me to We can also help by giving “practical holistic wellness tips to navigate the current times.” Moreover, check on your loved ones yourself every now and then, asking them how they really are.
- Online worship services. Bookmark a Youtube channel where they can find spiritual strength and feel a sense of fellowship. A strong faith can help the elderly ease away worries and fears. Victory.org.ph’s online worship services may help your elderly loved ones in these trying times.
Encourage Them to be Active
Boredom can make the mind wander into worries. Avoid it by giving your older loved ones things to do all throughout the day. Let them be active physically and mentally. Host a workout session every morning, where all the family members, not just the elderly, will participate. Allow them to go outdoors, in your backyard, to get busy in gardening. Let them help in the chores, say, preparing the table or cleaning windows, if they’re able.
At night, gather together for some board or card games. A trivia contest can likewise exercise those brain cells. But if you want a more laid-back, less challenging activity, go for some arts and crafts. Let them paint with watercolor or do a few sketches. Bake some cookies. Ask them to teach you some of their best recipes.
Maybe you can make some face masks and donate them to hospitals and health workers. These will help take their mind off the anxieties and at the same time, give them a sense of normalcy in this crisis.
Keep Your Pantries and Medicine Cabinet Stocked
The last thing you want in your household is a shortage of food. This isn’t just a matter of physical sustenance. It can also add more worry to your parents or grandparents. That said, keep a good supply of food items in your pantry. Maximize your time at the grocery store and avoid going outside every now and then by listing down essentials before leaving home. While you’re out, drop by the drugstore to buy maintenance medicines of your elderly loved one. If you work from home, ask someone to do these errands for you.
Do note that there are stores that offer delivery options through online orders if you’re in Manila. If they service your area, choose this over going to physical shops. Remember, you want to reduce the risk of infection in your household.
Protect Your Health
As the caregiver, you should be healthy yourself. Otherwise, you’re not only putting older loved ones at risk, but also adding to their growing worries. Observe the precautionary measures to prevent infection: wash your hands regularly, avoid touching your face, and disinfect commonly touched areas at home. Boost your immune system by eating healthy food, exercising, getting enough sleep, and managing stress well.
If you experience symptoms, monitor your health and do self-quarantine. It’s important to limit your interactions with the elderly loved one, even if you haven’t confirmed yet that you caught the disease. Prepare for the possibility that you might be hospitalized. While things are okay now, assign someone in the family who can take your place in being a caregiver in the event that you become sick.
Do you have older folks at home? They need you now more than ever in this time of crisis. Prioritize their health, both physical and mental. This pandemic will be over eventually. In the meantime, support your elderly loved one.