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Protect older friends and relations from viruses: here's how

Simple, practical ways to help keep the elderly safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

Updated

Protect older friends and relations from viruses: here's how

The elderly population ( people over 65) are the most at risk from contracting coronavirus, therefore, keeping them safe and protected is of utmost importance. Doing so will help prevent the spread of the virus. Whether it's neighbours or friends or older relatives, we all have a part to play to help keep them safe. Here are six tips to support and protect seniors.

1. Protect yourself from the coronavirus

Before you come into contact with an elderly person, ensure you implement effective coronavirus transmission precautions for yourself. Health professionals recommend that washing your hands is one of the best ways to prevent viruses from spreading. Use soap and water and lather on your hands for at least 20 seconds. If you sneeze or cough, use tissues to catch them and dispose of them hygienically in a bin. If you're out, then cough in the crook of your elbow (don't cough into your hands). Do not touch your face, as that is the quickest way to become infected. Urge your elderly relatives and friends to start a hygiene routine as a coronavirus prevention measure

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2. Make sure they have enough provisions

Older people should not be in crowded places. Thankfully, due to the national lockdown, everyone is required to stay indoors where possible. And several supermarkets are allowing only a certain amount of shoppers at a time to enter the building. Make sure the elderly person in your life has all the necessary groceries, medication and hygiene supplies they will need for at least two weeks, and longer if possible. You could also try and do grocery shopping for them yourself and look into other ways groceries could be delivered to their house. Always check whether they have enough stock of their medications and find out if a nearby chemist can deliver prescriptions. If all else fails, check whether there is a reliable neighbour you could call on.

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3. Decide whether you should be visiting

It's important that you reduce social interaction as much as possible. Only visit them if you need to help them with anything urgent. If you think you are experiencing symptoms or may have been exposed to the coronavirus, then you should stay away. If you are sick and live with an elderly person, try to find elsewhere for them to live for the next 14 days. This may be difficult, especially if you are healthy and may consider visiting. But, the less you expose the elderly to contamination risk, the better. If you are in the company of an older person, ensure that you have washed your hands (see above) and then keep your distance – at least one metre apart. You'll need to put a pause on kissing and hugging for now.

4. Check with care homes or hospitals before visiting

Some hospitals and other facilities are requesting only essential visits, so check with staff beforehand. It's also possible that a nursing home may restrict outside visits, exercise classes and other activities, so find other ways to stay in touch with your relative/friend/ (see below for ways to communicate).

5. Keep in touch as often as possible

Under these circumstances, isolation is a real risk for older people, so be proactive about writing, phoning, sending text messages, or arranging a video call. You can help set them up by recommending some podcasts to help combat loneliness, giving them books to read or play games online with them. Make sure they keep plenty of pictures of their loved ones around as a reminder of the people in their life.

6. Encourage them to be active

The routines of older people will most likely be affected, especially as they stay at home for the lockdown period, as a coronavirus prevention measure. Because of this, doctors recommend staying active, whether that's doing some cleaning around the home, for instance, dusting or cleaning a pool, doing chair exercises or performing light cardio work. Getting regular fresh air is also beneficial, so urge seniors to take a walk around the garden whenever possible.

Originally published