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.