COVID-19: Caring for the elderly

We are aware that the elderly in our midst are at a higher risk from the Covid -19 virus, especially those with pre-existing medical conditions. In our society most of the elderly live with us or with other family members. However there may be some who are staying by themselves.  They would need to be cared for from a distance following the instructions of self care and caution which would be a part of taking care of our elders as well.

It is of equal importance for the caregivers to communicate information about precautions and help our elderly understand the need to abide by them in the present circumstances.

Some helpful ways to communicate to them are

  • Through a trusted friend / relative whose opinion they value — this would make a difference to them because of the already existing relationship they have with that person.
  • Allow them to ask questions. Instead of only giving instructions as to what they should do and should not do, allowing them to ask whatever questions come to their mind will help them have a better understanding.
  • Explain what is done in the home in preparation to face the current situation such as medicinal and food supplies have bought, additional steps towards cleanliness have been taken. This would help reassure them.
  • The manner in which you speak to your elders is important, especially the tone of your voice. In your urgency to communicate the important details you could be using a tone that is not too well accepted by them. Do be sensitive about that.

While the whole country is on lockdown our elderly could be feeling lost, lonely and bored which could make them frustrated and stressed along with the concern about their physical well being. Undoubtedly connecting with their medical doctor to assure them in ways they know best for their physical well being would be important.

A few suggestions below with regard to their emotional care.

  • With the use of technology help them to be connected to family members, grandchildren, friends, other relatives and loved ones on a daily basis through video chats and the like.
  • Pull out old photo albums and let them spend time reminiscing about the past. Images of children, grandchildren or family will bring joy.
  • Let them be involved in small household chores such as simple cleaning, wiping surfaces with disinfectant or any other task they can manage.
  • Get them to demonstrate cooking a family favourite dish or a meal.
  • Let them enjoy the luxury of owning a separate of everything that had earlier been shared with others.
  • Get a support system of family or friends to call and talk to them. This would help them feel wanted and cared for since keeping them physically distant could be lonely and distressing.

You as caregiver, may also be feeling tired, anxious and overburdened, especially in the current situation. It can be hard to be consistently patient and compassionate. Be kind to yourself as well!

If you, or someone you care about, are feeling overwhelmed, do feel free to reach out for counselling.

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