How to help older people deal with the impact of coronavirus

How to help older people deal with the impact of coronavirus

The coronavirus outbreak is having an enormous impact on British life, with schools closing, major events being cancelled and shops struggling to meet demand for basic items.

Another ramification of the spread of the virus - which causes the new illness Covid-19 - is that people are being told to avoid any unnecessary social contact with others. These social distancing measures are particularly important for those over the age of 70, who are most at risk of becoming seriously ill as a result of Covid-19.

If you have elderly relatives, you might be concerned about the impact having to spend time in isolation will have on them, particularly in terms of their mental health.

With that in mind, here are some of the practical steps you can take to help older people during this difficult time.

Speak more frequently

The current social distancing guidelines mean you shouldn't be visiting your elderly relatives in person, so one of the positive things you can do to make up for this loss of contact is to speak more regularly over the phone.

Sometimes, just hearing another person's voice - especially if it's a close family member - can be enough to help a relative stay positive during periods of isolation. Making regular phone calls to your loved ones shows them that you're thinking about them and that you understand the challenge of what they're going through.

Video calling is about as close as many people can get to actually being in the room with an elderly relative at the moment, so it could be worth talking older people through how to use tools like WhatsApp, Skype and FaceTime.

Pass on the latest information

It's vital that over-70s are keeping up with the latest information and advice on coronavirus from the government, so they understand the seriousness of the situation and are fully up to date with what they should be doing to protect themselves.

This could be difficult for those who don't follow the news or don't feel confident accessing the internet. You can help by making sure you're following the latest updates and passing the key details on to older people who might be out of the loop.

Show you care

There are many ways you can show that you're thinking about your loved ones without actually seeing them in person.

One idea is to make a homemade 'thinking of you' card, which can be a fun project to get young children involved with, particularly those who are missing seeing their grandparents.

Another nice idea is to send an old-fashioned handwritten letter and request a reply, which will give older people something to focus on while they're self-isolating.

Donate to good causes

Various services are being put under a lot of strain at the moment, including charities. Age UK, for example, has seen a rapid increase in demand in recent times and is hoping to raise £10 million to keep its advice and friendship services running and to deliver ongoing community support.

Making a donation to causes like this is one way to make sure you're doing something productive and useful for the most vulnerable members of society at this uniquely challenging time.

For further information on guidelines for protecting the over-70s during coronavirus, visit our help and advice blog.