There’s no denying that coronavirus is scary, especially when you're over 60. But the advice from experts is clear: don’t panic, but do prepare. We've put together a guide to how to cope as an older person during the pandemic, with everything from symptoms to gift ideas covered...
Sign up to our newsletter for more coronavirus updates...
The most important symptoms to watch out for are fever, cough and shortness of breath. If you have cold or flu symptoms that appear to be getting worse rather than better over time, this could be another sign of the virus. Fatigue and body-aches can also be symptoms of normal seasonal flu as well as coronavirus. If you’re experiencing itchy eyes, a stuffy nose and sneezing, don’t worry - these are generally symptoms of normal allergies.
If you suspect you have coronavirus, use the online NHS 111 service.
If you experience any of these severe symptoms of coronavirus, contact emergency services immediately:
Everyone (bar key workers) is now has to stay at home, unless they need to go out and buy provisions/medicine or are taking exercise (once a day maximum). If you are over 70, the advice is not to leave the house at all, and to exercise at home instead, and have your shopping delivered to you.
The NHS is now also saying that if you are over 70, or have a weakened immune system or long-term health condition, and there is someone in your house showing symptoms, you need to keep as far away from them as possible. Current advice is that you should go stay somewhere else. If this is not possible, try stay at least two meters (three steps) away from people in your home. If possible, sleep alone, and regularly wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Ask friends and family to deliver things like shopping and medicines but leave them outside, and don't invite them in. If you've been told to stay at home, do not leave at all, even to go for a quick walk.
Remember, so far 80% of corona cases have been mild, and so if you do get it, the odds are you will experience something similar to a bad cough. Bearing that in mind, it’s helpful to think calmly about what you would want around the house if you had a cold - lots of tissues, chicken soup, hydrating drinks.
If you need daily medication, contact your pharmacy by phone and explain your situation - many of them are offering delivery service at the moment.
It could be helpful to make a list of all of the aid organisations in your community that you could contact if you need to access information, health care services, support, and resources.
But it’s not all bad! Some gransnetters have been quick to point out that self-isolation could be a great opportunity for a bit of me-time.
“Plenty of phone calls, Skype, Gransnet, uplifting radio music rather than the news, ordering in favourite foods and treats, reading good books, afternoon naps etc. - think of it as a little luxury break, but at home!”
NHS UK’s advice is to:
Whilst it's important to stay vigilant, if your worry is becoming unbearable, it might be a good idea to seek help. We have a list of useful resources if you feel your mental health is suffering as a result of the pandemic.
In a word, no. It's now illegal to have family over who do not live with you. The only permitted visits are of children under 18 to parents' homes.
We know from our research that over half of Gransnet users regularly look after their grandchildren, but in these difficult circumstances, grandparents are not allowed to provide childcare. From Friday 20th March, all schools in the UK were closed until further notice, except for the children of key workers and vulnerable children. The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, also announced that children should not be left with grandparents or others who are vulnerable to the virus.
This doesn't mean you can't have quality time with your grandkids though - check out our page for fun ways to keep in touch.
If you live alone, it is essential to keep in touch with the outside world as much as you can at the moment. The telephone is the easiest way to keep connected for many people, and making sure you have a list of phone numbers easily accessible before isolation begins is a sensible precaution. Creating Whatsapp groups with neighbours or local friends can be useful if you need help getting supplies. Mutual aid groups are springing up around the UK, where ordinary people are getting together to help people with food shopping, picking-up perscriptions or dog walking. If you're worried about living alone, we've got some suggestions for how to avoid loneliness during lockdown.
If you want to provide some comfort to people who are self-isolating, gransnetters have lots of advice.
It's a difficult time for everyone, and a gift in the post could be a massive source of comfort for someone who's feeling lonely during the epidemic. Here are some of our favourite suggestions.
"My FaceTime address. I know from experience that loneliness is the worse thing!"
"Some seeds or voucher for seed catalogue."
"Jigsaw puzzles, flowers, books, and a daily phone call (at least)."
"A good supply of gin and tonic."
Disclaimer: The information on our health pages is only intended as an informal guide and should not be treated as a substitute for medical advice. Gransnet would urge you to consult the NHS coronavirus website if you are concerned you or someone you know has the disease.