Australia’s response to the coronavirus has been praised around the world. It has helped to keep infection rates low, and saved human lives in the process. But there’s been a worrying surge in Victoria recently, and our elderly citizens remain the most vulnerable group in the country, to be protected at all costs.
With the virus resurging, it is important for us to convince the elderly to stay at home as much as possible for their own safety, and in this article, we will explain some of the best ways to do so.
1. Stress the danger
Our seniors have lived through a lot—world wars, multiple recessions, and most of the music that came out of the 70s. Age and experience can make a person battle-hardened and almost fearless, so when something deadly like the coronavirus comes along, they might not take it as seriously as they should. They need to be reminded that their immune systems aren’t as effective as they once were, and that people of their age need to be more cautious.
While we don’t want our seniors to live in a state of fear, when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic, a little fear will help them to stay safe. You might consider mentioning the COVID fatality rates for seniors when compared to the rest of the population, or remind them of how contagious the virus is, and how easily they can catch it. Also, as more people are recovering from COVID-19, doctors are starting to better understand the long-term effects of contracting the virus, which can include lung scarring, respiratory disease, cognitive decline, neurological problems, and a lot more.2 It’s a horrible virus that will affect people’s quality of life years after contracting it, and by stressing this to your elderly parent, you may help to convince them to stay at home. This isn’t just about them, after all. It’s about the lives of every single Australian, senior or otherwise.
2. Help them with their shopping
Everyone needs to restock their groceries, which makes the supermarket one of the more common places to catch the coronavirus. Combine this with the fact that elderly people have a tendency to go shopping more frequently than needed, and you have a recipe for disaster.
If possible, consider helping your elderly loved ones with their grocery shopping, whether ordering online for them, or visiting the supermarket yourself. You might drop in occasionally and replenish anything that is sparse that they may need.
The same goes for pharmacy trips, which are also a common occurrence for our seniors. By picking up their prescriptions for them, you will be reducing the risk of them picking up the bug, and might even save their life.
3. Give them entertainment ideas
After having spent almost four months hiding ourselves away, we can all attest to the crippling boredom of lockdown. The walls of our homes suddenly seem suffocating, and given that elderly people suffer from loneliness more than the rest of us, the effect is even more pronounced for them.
For this reason, home entertainment has become a lifeline in the battle against COVID-19. There’s tons that seniors can do to keep themselves entertained, including:
- Reading books, magazines, or online articles
- Browsing through old photos
- Listening to podcasts
- Word games such as scrabble, crosswords, etc.
- Challenging puzzles
- Memory challenges
- Painting, drawing, writing, or anything else creative
- Discovering new music on Spotify
- Nintendo Wii
Many of these games can also be played online with friends—a social factor that encourages connection and companionship.
4. Contact them regularly
Loneliness is a bigger threat to the elderly than disease and poverty,1 and in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s become an even more potent problem. For this reason, it’s more important than ever to stay connected to your elderly loved ones, creating a lifeline that will remind them of their importance within the family and how important they are in your family unit.
Thankfully, modern technology provides ample opportunities for us to stay in touch. We can help them set up an app that allows video chat such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Google Meet, Zoom, or Skype, and then promise to call them at least a couple of times a week to catch up. If necessary, we can purchase a product specifically designed for video calling, which requires minimal setup and learning to use. This includes Amazon’s Echo Show, The Facebook Portal, or Google’s Nest Hub Max—all relatively priced, and worth the cost to keep your elderly parent feeling loved.
A regular schedule is key—most people thrive on routine, and this is especially true for seniors. Creating a calling schedule may seem over the top and even a bit cold, but locking in chat times will create an assuring routine for your elderly loved one, and give them something to look forward to in the run up to each call.
Australia has done exceptionally well with the pandemic to date, but if we are to keep the virus under control, everyone needs to remain cautious. This is especially true for our seniors, and we must do everything we can to convince them to stay at home, and remain safe.
- Ali Seyfzadeh, Mansoor Haghighatian, Aliasghar Mohajerani, 2019, Social Isolation in the Elderly: The Neglected Issue, Iran J Public Health, 6th April 2020
- Zoe Cormier, 2020, How Covid-19 can damage the brain, BBC