COVID-19, coronavirus, plain old ‘corona’ – whatever you want to call it, it’s a pandemic with serious ramifications. However, there is already a lot of misinformation out there – good-natured or otherwise – spanning topics ranging from kitchen remedies to home testing.
As you may have heard, older adults are among the groups most at-risk of both catching the virus, and suffering fatally. That’s why we’ve written this article about the best ways to help them.
With all these suggestions and instructions flying around, it can be hard to get a grip on the best course of action. That’s why we’re giving you a crash course on the best things to do to help older people, or those with otherwise compromised immune systems. These tips have less to do with the disease, and more with the conditions of quarantine.
1. Keep in frequent contact with them (communicative, not physical!)
The virus is spread mainly through physical contact, so constantly travelling between your home and theirs and giving them a hug and a kiss is strongly advised against. However, you’re right to be checking up on them frequently.
But we live in the 21st century! You no longer have to be in the same room as someone to communicate with and check up on them. This is the perfect time to set up your virtual communications, and make sure they’re all okay from the safety of your own home.
Phone calls and texts are one thing, but if people are self-isolating, they can start to feel a bit lonely or stir crazy, and tempted to leave the house. To prevent this, you might want to set up a face-call, like Skype or Facetime. Platforms like these are very easy to use, and will mean you don’t have to travel!
2. Make sure their emergency information is up to date
We hopefully all know the emergency numbers. If you need help finding out your country's emergency number, here's a page of every country's various emergency numbers.
But there are some other less immediate – but still helpful – numbers and resources that we should all be aware of during this time. Do some research into local aid groups or resources that can help with any problems that arise over the course of the epidemic.
As these are local resources, we can’t name them all. But it’s worth your time to google “local resources for older people/disabled,” or something similar, to make sure you’re aware of all the resources you could be making use of.
Then, compile these resources into a bite size list and send them on. You could even post them on a board in your loved one’s home, so that they can easily access the information in case of an emergency.
Speaking of posting things in their house, it’s a good idea to have any pertinent medical information regarding your older person’s health at eyeline for anyone entering the house. That way, if emergency responders need to enter the home, they’ll be able to see a list of the occupant’s prescriptions and conditions that might impact treatment.
3. Check that they have the correct type/amount of medication
On the topic of medication, make sure to stock up! Obviously getting prescription medicine is a bit harder than going out and buying some canned food, but it’s just as important. In times like these, doctors will allow for extended prescriptions, allowing you to get more than a typical amount of necessary medication.
However, it might be an idea to ask someone who is less immunocompromised to go and retrieve the medicine. This can be arranged, as long as the intended recipient of the prescription fills out the appropriate forms.
4. Make sure their food stocks are up
Like we said, food is just as important as medicine! Unfortunately, there has been a bit of hysteria surrounding supermarket stocks, meaning that a lot of types of food (such as pasta, canned food, and other non-perishables) are in short supply.
Don’t worry, though – we’re hardly at famine levels. There is food around – you just need to know where to find it. Look at smaller markets, as the panic-buying is impacting mostly the larger supermarkets. Make sure to buy food for them that lasts a while, like the aforementioned cans and pasta, as well as jars of sauce or pickles.
It’s also a good idea to set a diet plan, so that they ration their food at a replenishable rate according to what they have and what’s available. For a general rundown of good things to pick up, check out this list.
5. Take their health equipment into consideration
If your loved one relies on some kind of medical equipment, like a hearing aid or an insulin pump, make sure they’re also suitably geared up to sustain these crucial supplies.
Hearing aid batteries and backup insulin are a good example of supplies to keep on top of. Obviously, there are other conditions which require different sorts of maintenance, so just like the medication, make sure you’re informed about what your loved one needs and how to get it.
6. Confirm that they have the appropriate cleaning resources
Sterilization is key! The virus can stay on surfaces for a long time, so they’ll need to be cleaned frequently. Even if we’re in isolation, it’s unavoidable that we’ll need to expose ourselves to the outside.
If you’re bringing a bag of food to your loved one, it might even be a good idea to wipe down the cans or other surfaces. Remember, don’t hoard cleaning supplies – just take enough to manage your own living spaces.
7. Help them set a new routine
Self-isolating can be a fun adventure for the first couple of days, but cabin fever is a real possibility. To combat this oppressive potential, work together to set up a routine. For example, you can set up a time to call every day, and get them a box set of a great drama to fill their days.
It’ll be a change, and no matter how well it’s handled, it could be upsetting for anyone told to stay indoors for weeks on end. This means you may just have to roll with the punches to keep them as happy as possible.
So, as a wrap-up, here are our seven points:
- Keep in frequent contact with any older adults
- Make sure their emergency information is up to date
- Check that they have the correct/enough medication
- Make sure their food stocks are up
- Take their health equipment into consideration
- Confirm that they have the appropriate cleaning resources
- Help them set a new routine
This is not a fun time for anyone – this virus is affecting almost everyone in the world in one way or another. The final and best piece of advice we can give is not medical – it’s a bit more abstract.
Obviously, there are the steps you’ve heard of already: wash your hands often, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and maintain a good distance between you and others at all times. Besides that, all we can tell you to do is to look out for each other.
While elders and sick need your help, make sure to also check in on all those you care about. It’s only by looking out for each other and keeping our loved ones close that we’ll be able to make the best of this bad situation.
Just don’t keep them too close. A few feet away will do just fine.