Help the elderly in COVID-19

We’re all in this together: How to help the elderly in the COVID-19 pandemic

While we may currently be separated by distance, it’s more important than ever for us to all come together as Australians. 

In the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, we all share a responsibility to look out for and protect the highest-risk members of our community — our elderly. 

A big part of this is maintaining distance, so as to not potentially spread the virus if you are unknowingly carrying it. But, just because you may not be able to physically spend time with the older people in your life, it doesn’t mean you can’t help support them through these difficult times.

Here are 4 simple ways you can look out for the elderly during the COVID-19 outbreak, whether that’s your parents, grandparents, neighbours or other relatives 

Volunteer to run errands 

People over the age of 60 have been instructed by the Australian government to stay home. While this is for the best, it can present new challenges to seniors who may be used to being able to pop out and get their groceries or send off their mail. 

One great way you can help the older people in your community is by offering to run their errands for them. This could mean taking their shopping list and doing a grocery run for them, or ordering online on their behalf. You could also offer to take their laundry to the laundromat, or pick up their medication (so long as they can arrange to give their pharmacist authority for you to do so). 

Some local councils have been handing out slips you can slide under your neighbour’s door, with a box they can check if they need assistance. Otherwise, you could make your own, or simply pick up the phone and ask if they need a hand. This simple gesture could make a huge difference in someone’s life.

Help them get connected

For many older people, social activities or community outings are the highlights of their week. The good news is, there are a few different online social activities they can do to help combat feelings of loneliness and boredom. These include everything from chat rooms for seniors to online concerts and church services.

One great way you can help the seniors in your life is by assisting in getting them set up with the tech to use these services. This might be a case of giving them instructions over the phone, or taking their laptop to set it up for them and recording a short, step-by-step video.

For more tips in helping seniors get connected, check out this article.

Check up on them regularly 

Sometimes, just knowing that somebody cares can be enough to completely brighten someone’s day. So, one way you can help is by simply checking up on them often to see how they’re going. 

This could be tapping on your neighbour’s window every few days for a quick chat, or picking up the phone. 

At Scalabrini, we have our residents set up with iPads with video chat capabilities. So, if your loved one lives at a Scalabrini village, feel free to organise to do video calls with them to let them know you care. You can book in your video chat here.

You could also record a lovely, heartfelt video message that they can play. We see first-hand what a smile this puts on our residents’ faces!

Lend a friendly ear

Unfortunately, not every older person has someone in their life who will check up on them often. The good news is, you can still make a difference in the life of someone you don’t even know. 

Organisations like the Red Cross run volunteer programs where you do daily phone call check-ins with older and disabled people to check that they’re ok — and just to have a chat! Have a search and see if there are any opportunities for telecross volunteering in your area. 

At the end of the day, we’re all in this together. By making a conscious effort to look out for our elders, we can help take care of their physical and mental health in these challenging times.

Blog Post

Missing Nana or Grandpa? How to answer kids’ questions about the Coronavirus

The COVID-19 outbreak can be scary and overwhelming for anybody, but this is especially true for children. 

Kids, particularly those on the younger side, may find it difficult to understand why they can’t leave the house, or why they’re not allowed to go see Nana and Pop anymore. This can cause feelings of confusion, sadness and even anger.

It can be challenging to find the right balance between scaring children with Coronavirus facts, and helping them to understand the situation at hand. But by using the tips below, you will be able to answer questions have about COVID-19 with tact, and alleviate some of their fears.

Acknowledge their questions

First and foremost, it’s important that children feel heard and that their questions aren’t silly. Be sure to listen intently, and avoid interrupting until they have finished speaking.  

Then, you can tell them that their worries are normal and that you’re here to help them through it.

You can also ask them what they already know about the situation and how they are feeling about it, so you can address any concerns or misconceptions they might have.  

Remain calm 

Children often pick up on our behaviour more than we realise, and this influences their own moods and emotions. When they see a parent or other adult worrying, they may see this as their cue to worry too.

So, be sure to address your own concerns and anxieties about the situation before you sit down to talk to a child. Model calmness during your conversation and they will likely follow your lead. 

Learn the facts

There is such an overload of information out there about COVID-19 that it can be difficult to separate fact from fiction. 

It’s important to familiarise yourself with current information about the Coronavirus from reputable sources such as the World Health Organisation or Australian Government’s health alert.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to alarm your child with information like the most recent death toll. But it will arm you with the confidence that you know what you’re talking about.

Be honest

Although it may be tempting to say whatever will put their little mind at ease, white lies or unnecessary sugar coating can do more harm than good. 

With children having such easy access to the information these days, it can break trust or leave them feeling more confused if they hear contrasting information from another source.

Try to avoid saying things like “it’s no big deal” or promising that nobody they know will contract the virus, as unfortunately that’s out of your control.

Instead, be honest with them about the situation, but keep the focus on things that are within control. 

For example, you could say something like “yes, there is a higher risk if the elderly catching the virus, but Nan and Pop are doing all the right things to stay safe.” 

Give age-appropriate answers

It’s also important to tailor your language, based on the age of the child. 

For younger children (for example, under 10) you might explain that COVID-19 is a disease caused by a new germ or bug, and that germs are organisations that are so tiny that we can’t see them, but they can make us sick if they get into our bodies. 

For older children or teenagers, you may choose to delve a little deeper into the science — especially if they’ve shown an interest in it. Understanding the ‘why’ can help unveil some of the mystery around it and make it feel that little less scary. 

Not quite sure how to put it all into words? Red Cross has some great examples of phrases you can use when talking to young people about COVID-19 that you can use as a starting point.

Focus on the positives

It may feel as though silver linings are few and far in between at the moment. However, there are some positives you can focus on to remind children that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

For example, it can be helpful to remind children that there have been many pandemics throughout history and that the experts know exactly what to do — it will just take some time. 

You could also focus on the fact that China has already been through what we are experiencing, and are beginning to come out the other side. 

If all else fails, remind them that the world will keep spinning, the sun will come up tomorrow, and that you have each other!

Help them find solutions 

In such tumultuous times, it’s important to help kids regain a sense of control. Rather than focusing on the uncertainty of the situation, focus on what they can do to keep themselves and the community safe. 

Teach them proper hand-washing technique and remind them to stay away from others if they do leave the home.

You can also help them play a proactive role in communicating with loved ones like grandparents.  

For example, you could encourage them to schedule a weekly phone or video chat at the same time each week.  Staying in regular contact with Grandma and Grandpa will also help reassure them that they are okay. 

By following these simple tips, you can help your kids or grandkids navigate this uncharted territory and take a weight off their little shoulders. 

Keep seniors connected during Coronavirus

6 Tips to Keep Seniors Connected During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Social engagement is essential for helping seniors maintain optimal health and quality of life. However, with the outbreak of Coronavirus, older Australians are being instructed to practice the exact opposite — self isolation.

With seniors being the highest risk group for COVID-19, staying indoors and limiting contact with others is essential. However, this change in way of life can be quite isolating and disorienting.

The good news is, there are a few simple ways seniors can stay connected to their friends, family and community during the pandemic. Not only can this help combat feelings of loneliness, it ensures they are kept in the loop with the right information about the virus.

Read on for 6 tips for seniors to stay connected during the Coronavirus.

1. Schedule virtual chats

For many older Australians, drop-ins from friends and family are the highlight of the week.

While in-person gatherings aren’t currently an option, the good news is it’s still possible to chat face-to-face.

There are many great video conferencing apps that can facilitate virtual catchups.

For people using a computer, Skype and Zoom are great options — and they allow multiple users, so the whole family can get involved.

For those on a mobile or tablet, FaceTime, WhatsApp or Houseparty are simple apps that will connect you with the click of a button.

If you are trying to keep your parent or grandparent connected, why not schedule recurring video calls? It will give them something to look forward to each week.

2. Get confident with tech

If the thought of downloading new apps feels a bit overwhelming – or, you’re trying to set a parent or grandparent up remotely — there are a range of great Australian programs that can help.

 For example, Telstra’s free Tech Savvy Seniors program uses short and easy-to-follow videos to get users set up on mobile devices, emails and other computer programs. 

There’s also the federal government’s Be Connected Program the GoDigi Program, which is a partnership from Australia Post and Infoxchange and the Australian Seniors Computer Clubs Association.

These initiatives will help get you or your loved one set up and confidently using tech devices.

3. Join online communities

Whether you’re an avid reader, a keen knitter or are mad about gardening, there are online communities for nearly every type of hobby.

Joining these can not only help keep seniors busy at home, but it allows them to connect with other likeminded people.

Senior Chatters is a great website that hosts discussions across an array of different topics, from group chatrooms to one-on-one chats.

The charity Active Ageing is another Australian resource that keeps seniors engaged in a range of virtual activities they can do from home — from physical activities to verbal crosswords to sudoku. They also recently launched a Friendly Phone Calls program, for those who prefer to chat on the phone.

4. Organise virtual outings

While it may not be possible to physically get out and about, seniors can still enjoy their favourite pastimes from the comfort of their armchairs.

Rather than cancelling their concerts, many musical performers are putting on virtual concerts that can be streamed from a computer or smartphone. For example, Classicfm has a great directory of classical concerts and symphonies that will be livestreamed online.

Even church can be attended virtually, with many churches taking their Sunday services online.

5. Volunteer

Not only can volunteering help keep seniors busy, it’s an excellent way to stay connected to the wider community.

Plus, sometimes during difficult times, the most fulfilling you can do is help others. Luckily, seniors can easily volunteer from home without physically coming into contact with others.

Many organisations — such as not-for-profits, political parties and faith-based groups — rely on volunteers to make phone calls.

Check out the websites Volunteering Australia or GoVolunteer to see if there’s an opportunity that could be a good fit.

6. Monitor news consumption

With the situation around Coronavirus rapidly changing, it’s important that seniors remain up-to-date with the latest news and health guidelines.

However, the constant stream of media coverage — which isn’t always 100% accurate — can just exaggerate an already stressful situation.

Try to avoid getting your Coronavirus news from Facebook, or keeping your TV on all day — or, encourage your older loved one not to do so. Instead, simply watching a 30-minute news coverage each night should be enough to stay sufficiently updated.

By following these tips, seniors can remain safe, engaged and connected during the Coronavirus crisis.