The elderly population is the most vulnerable segment in the COVID-19 pandemic. Fear, anxiety, and unpredictability in a lockdown situation can make them feel confused and powerless. Whether it's our parents staying with us or away in another city, or an elderly couple in the neighbourhood, it’s our responsibility to take care and protect all elders with love, respect, and dignity.
Younger Generation has to Step forward – Need of the hour
Older people are at significant risk of contracting a severe disease from COVID-19 owing to their weak immune system and the presence of comorbid conditions such as Hypertension, Diabetes, etc. A news report analysed that 71% of elderly patients who succumbed to COVID-19 disease had one or other comorbidity.
5 Tips to support the older generation and keep them safe
1. Social distancing is not optional
Senior citizens should be explained how social distancing is the only way to avoid exposure to the virus and thus preventing illness.
- Encourage them to stay home, avoid close contact with others, limit in-person visits and follow precautionary measures such as frequent handwashing and maintaining good respiratory hygiene
- Keep in touch over the phone, if they live alone in another city, for emotional support
2. Social distancing is not Social Isolation
Social distancing doesn’t mean social isolation. Help them figure out how they can still chat with their friends, children, and relatives over phone /video calling.
3. Help them Fight Stress
Suddenly imposed restrictions and changed lifestyles may lead to stress. Encourage the elderly to:
- Eat healthy food, exercise/walk inside the house, take deep breaths, meditate and get enough sleep
- Stay active, follow a normal routine at home, revisit past memories-watch old movies, indulge in favourite hobbies like painting, play indoor games like chess, carrom.
- Set the limit to the news on the outbreak and don’t make conversations related to the outbreak
- Be positive, and don’t worry, everyone is going through this difficult phase.
4. Ensure their medical need is taken care
- Stock up the regularly prescribed medicines so that they don’t miss the dose
- Postpone the regular health check-up visits
- Opt for telemedicine for health-related queries and medical consultations
- Don’t let them self-medicate with any antivirals, antibiotics or herbal remedies without consulting physician
5. Help them to add the COVID-19 emergency helpline numbers to speed dial and ask to immediately call a doctor if they develop cough, fever or breathlessness
The extremely vulnerable elderly population is experienced, wise and mentally strong; Involve them in every decision making so that they don’t feel left out.