Cabin fever setting in? Us too. With so much extra time in the day, it can be difficult to know what to do with those spare hours, and now, more so than ever, it's so important to look out for other people in our communities. With this in mind, we've put together this quick guide on how to help older people during the coronavirus pandemic. You can do most of them from the comfort of your own home - perfect if you're in isolation yourself and still want to help.
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A quick phone call can make all the difference to someone feeling lonely through isolation. Whether it's a friend, relative or neighbour, put the kettle on and schedule a chat over the phone to see how they're doing. It might also be worth suggesting that you have a regular day/time where you chat to add some structure to your week, and also make sure you keep checking in regularly.
If you want to go one step further and video call, there are loads of apps you can use, including Skype, Zoom, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Video calling also gives you the ability to call multiple people at the same time, ideal if you want to chat to a group of friends or family members.
If an older person is unable to do their own shopping, offering to pick up essentials for them is a lovely gesture and can help massively. Just remember to follow government guidelines if you are doing this, wash your hands regularly, and have no contact with the person you are shopping for. This will likely mean dropping the shopping off for them at their door, as you shouldn't enter their house and must remain two metres (six feet) away from other people when you leave your house.
If you are unable to leave the house yourself due to government guidelines, you could call an older person who doesn't have access to the internet and organise an online shopping delivery for them. Delivery slots have been quite difficult to secure recently due to demand, however, so you might need to do this planning ahead for a few weeks time.
"I have made a chart with exercises I do at the gym down one side, and the days of the week along the top. I've got weights work on the list and I'll do that a minimum of twice a week. Abs work also minimum twice a week. Cardio most days. I'm ticking my chart when I've done it. It will give me a sense of achievement to see my chart filling up."
Exercise during isolation is important in maintaining a healthy mind and body, particularly while we're locked in for the whole day. There are plenty of exercise videos on YouTube aimed at older people, and there are also fantastic resources, like Move It Or Lose It, who have a COVID-19 support pack. If you know someone in isolation due to their age, sharing ways they can keep active can help.
Organisations like AgeUK, The Trussell Trust, and many other charities are appealing for donations so they can continue to help people during this crisis. If you can afford to, a one-off donation to a charity of your choice can make a real difference to those in need. And if you wanted more of a motivation to donate, think of the money you're saving by staying in.
Since the government announced that they were looking for NHS volunteers during the pandemic, 750,000 people registered to help. There are a number of different roles, including delivering supplies and providing transport, but the role suited to those who have to isolate themselves is the 'Check-in and Chat' volunteer, who provides support over the phone to those at risk of loneliness. Recruitment is currently paused while the first applications are processed, but those interested are advised to check this website in a few weeks when the applications will be reopened.
"There are many misleading and dangerous statements about the virus circulating online."
With social media and the fact that everyone's talking about coronavirus, it can be easy to be click-happy and hit the retweet/share button on a seemingly innocuous post. Sometimes, however, posts can contain false information, the spread of which can be harmful if they contain incorrect medical advice. Always question what you are about to share: did it come from a reputable source? Does this reflect NHS advice? If you're still unsure, it's best not to share. The BBC also has this guide to dispel common misconceptions about coronavirus.
"I'd encourage anyone who feels isolated and alone to post because other gransnetters offer some useful and heartfelt advice."
Online communities can be a lifeline during isolation, and gransnetters stand ready to offer support, conversation and (virtual) company throughout on our forums. If you have friends, neighbours or relatives who might benefit from this, do let them know about Gransnet and encourage them to be part of our community during these difficult times.