Seniors and Coronavirus
TIPS FOR SUPPORTING SENIORS IN OUR COMMUNITY DURING THIS TIME OF NEED
As we learn more and more about the COVID-19 virus and how it affects us, one fact has remained certain: that elderly individuals are at an increased risk for more severe complications of the disease. This has led most senior citizens in our communities to go into quarantine sooner than the rest of us. As most of us hunker down for our “stay-at home” duration, we should still take the time to reach out to those who may have been staying at home for a lot longer.
Whether they are our relatives, friends, or neighbors, the senior citizens in our communities are in need of support; physically, emotionally, and socially. To help them get through this time along with us, here are some suggestions to keep them active and happy.
We are all aware of the normal symptoms of COVID-19 infection: fever, shortness of breath, cough, etc. However, because most of us are healthy and fight the infection before it worsens, we are less aware of the more serious symptoms of this disease. Those with less robust immune systems are at a much higher risk of not just the virus, but severe complications such as:
- ⋅ Trouble breathing
- ⋅ Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- ⋅ New confusion or inability to arouse
- ⋅ Bluish lips or face
If you are interacting with senior citizens, and they are showing symptoms like this, then they need to seek treatment immediately.
In all of your efforts to assist, preventing the spread of germs when caring for someone who is sick or at risk is vital for both their safety and yours.
Fear and anxiety are all around us, as we consider both the nature of this disease, and the impact that it is having on all of our lives. Such conditions are especially stressful for older people, who must also deal with the threats arising from their more vulnerable condition. Increased and constant stress also puts people at increased risk for disease, so it is important to help each other manage their emotional well-being.
Some ideas to help seniors deal with the increased stress are:
- ⋅ Encourage them to take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to the news
- ⋅ Remind them to be physically active
- ⋅ Assist with outside needs such as groceries
- ⋅ Help them take time to unwind.
- ⋅ Be aware, so you can notice if they are feeling overwhelmed and offer support.
Support and attention is perhaps the best thing you can provide, as it gives the added benefit of social interaction that many seniors lack, especially in this time. For all of us, social contact is what most of us are starving for as we sit effectively isolated in our homes. While our social chains have largely moved to the digital world, many have not, and they stand in greater need to fill that social void, especially if they live alone.
Here are some ways to help:
- ⋅ Give them a phone call
- ⋅ While maintaining safe standards, talk with them while outside.
- ⋅ Assist them in setting up a social media account
- ⋅ Help connect them with their friends and family over the internet
- ⋅ Get them acquainted with programs like Skype so they can video chat
By helping our neighbors through this difficult time, we can build a better community and emerge from this crisis stronger than before.