Team AckoJun 15, 2021
India implemented a nation-wide Lockdown to fight the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic via Social Distancing. People are expected to stay indoors and follow the guidelines stated by the authorities. These are challenging, uncertain, and terrifying times. Especially for children and the elderly.
Numerous reports from all over the world suggest that the elderly population face great risks from COVID-19. Reasons attributed for this include their existing diseases and a weak immune system. Therefore, it becomes important for the younger members of the family to take care of the older ones. Here are some pointers related to taking care of the elderly during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.
Senior Citizens (above sixty years of age) and Super Senior Citizens (above eighty years of age) are used to dealing with life and its challenges at their own pace. Some respond cooperatively to change while some do not like it at all. The ongoing pandemic has certainly changed everyone’s routine.
Elders need to realign to this new normal. With people working from home, and schools and colleges being shut, elders have more people at home but that also means residing in a shared space for a longer period. Changes in the house because of Social Distancing are bound to impact the older people. Apart from keeping them safe from the virus, you must be aware of the fact that their mental health also needs to be catered to. Here are some tips to help you out.
Senior citizens in the house need to be treated with respect and dignity. Their needs should be acknowledged and changes need to be well communicated. Refrain from treating them like invalids.
Inform them about the changes that are being made in the house. Introduce them to this new way of living. Answer their questions patiently and consider their inputs wherever applicable. Overlooking their views, needs, and challenges can be perceived by them as being disrespectful and can lead to stress and psychological issues.
Social Distancing and Lockdown has made it crucial for people to stay in their homes. Children and senior citizens should not step out and adults in the family should only do so to fetch essentials. People need to follow rules and regulations related to COVID-19 because the virus can spread rapidly.
Things will not work out well if you roam around leisurely, mingle with others, and flout Social Distancing norms and come back to your home where the others are under Lockdown. Not following rules can result in you getting affected by the virus and then transmitting it to the elders in your home.
Also, read: Including Parents in Employer’s Insurance
Explain the general precautionary measures against the virus to the senior citizens in your family. Speak to them about washing their hands with soap properly. Tell them about using the sanitizer the right way and staying away from the gas stove if they have applied an alcohol-based sanitizer.
Request them to stop touching their face and eyes, and maintain basic hygiene. If they believe in certain myths related to the Coronavirus, educate them about the same with evidence.
Senior Citizens and Super Senior Citizens often have their calendars marked with weekly doctor visits and monthly medical tests. Sit with them and understand their medical requirements.
Resort to technology to help them speak to their doctors (telemedicine) without stepping out of the house. Discuss their medical condition with the doctor and understand what needs to be done given the situation. If there is an urgent requirement to visit a doctor or a hospital, adhere to all the safety precautions such as wearing masks, washing hands, etc. after returning from outside.
Some senior citizens are dependent on medicines even for basic functioning. Make sure to check their list of prescription medicines and stock them up. Consult with their doctor about the amount of medicine that needs to be stocked up.
Ensure you do not engage in panic buying concerning their medicines but be proactive so that they have a steady supply of essential medicines. Keep an eye on the expiry date of the medicines while buying them.
Also, read: Ways To Remain Healthy During Social Distancing
Elders might be used to a certain lifestyle such as visiting a place of worship, sitting in a garden with people of their age group, etc. Social Distancing will not allow them to continue with their social life.
Help them to get on a call with their friends or relatives. Video calling their loved ones or online interaction with the children in the family circle can bring joy.
Senior citizens need proper sleep, adequate nutrition and some amount of exercise. Their sleep cycle should not be disturbed due to the changes in the household because of the Lockdown or Social Distancing. Certain fruits and vegetables might not be available in the market. However, they should get an adequate amount of nutrition and efforts need to be made to ensure it.
It is difficult for elders to exercise within a house. Unlike the younger generation who can workout at home by performing basic strength-based exercises and dancing, the older generation does not have multiple options due to their limitations. They can do yoga, meditation and walking to stay active.
Involve the senior citizens in activities. Be it watering the plants or cleaning the bookshelf, if they are interested, they can help in such basic activities and stay occupied. Include them in tasks keeping their health in mind. Do not encourage them to perform strenuous activities.
Bring out those board games that are usually hidden in the cupboard. Elders can play cards with their grandchildren or a game of carrom. Chess is also a good game to keep the mind active. If they like to read, write, or paint, encourage them to pursue an indoor hobby.
Be it the news, WhatsApp forwards or other Social Media platforms, there is a lot of negativity when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic. Keep the environment in your house positive.
Limit the news-watching time on television in the house. It is imperative to stay alert however, being exposed to negativity can be harmful to the peace of mind. It can lead to anxiety and frustration. Speak to them about their happy times. Revisit old memories and listen to their life experiences.
Also, read: Coronavirus Helpline Number, India
Listed below are some common questions and answers concerning COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic and the elderly population. You can know more about frequently asked questions by visiting the World Health organization’s website.
Note that the following section is based on generic information and you should seek appropriate medical assistance in case of specific COVID-19 information or if you have any difficulty breathing.
Do older people face enhanced risks of serious illness due to the virus?
The world still does not know much about the virus. Research is still going on. However, as per the World Health Organization, elders and those with certain pre-existing medical conditions appear to develop serious illness comparatively more than others.
Are people with blood pressure problems, heart-related issues, and diabetes more likely to develop serious illness?
Yes, people with problems related to blood pressure, heart, and diabetes are more likely to develop serious illness.
Are people above the age of sixty without any medical conditions safe from the virus?
No, the COVID-19 virus can affect people across all ages whether they have any existing medical conditions or not.
Can a person above the age of sixty recover from the virus after being diagnosed as COVID positive?
A person above the age of sixty can recover from the virus, however, it will depend on several factors such as the person’s immune system, existing diseases, etc.
I have a Family Floater health insurance and it covers my parents who are above sixty years of age. Will that policy cover COVID-19?
You will have to go through the terms and conditions of the policy to check the inclusions and exclusions of your health plan. You can have a word with your health insurance company and ask them your specific doubts.
Is it possible to be infected by COVID-19 but not develop symptoms?
Yes, it is possible to be affected by the virus without any symptoms.
Is there a helpline that I can contact in case of mental health issues because of the COVID-19 disease?
Yes, the Indian Government has launched a helpline for people facing mental health issues because of the pandemic. Here’s the number – 08046110007.
Can senior citizens go out on the road for an early morning walk during the Coronavirus period?
Morning walks should be avoided during the Lockdown. People should stay at home during the Social Distancing period. Senior citizens should avoid venturing out in public places like roads, or parks during the Coronavirus period.
Supporting older people during the COVID-19 pandemic is everyone’s business, World Health Organization, http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/health-emergencies/coronavirus-covid-19/news/news/2020/4/supporting-older-people-during-the-covid-19-pandemic-is-everyones-business.
Taking care of Mental Health of elderly During COVID-19, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Government of India, https://www.mohfw.gov.in/pdf/mentalhealthelderly.pdf
Q&A on coronaviruses (COVID-19), World Health Organization, https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses
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