Fear and anxiety about COVID-19 can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions. Numerous reports worldwide suggest that the elderly face greater risks from the pandemic. There are several reasons why this section is more vulnerable; they have more chronic conditions than younger people, their aging immune system makes it harder to fight off diseases, infections and viruses, and hence recoveries are slower and more complicated. Therefore, it becomes important to take care of senior citizens.
Elderly people rely on social connection more than most and they need it now more than ever. With India in a lockdown mode, vulnerable seniors could be feeling more alone than usual. Here are some pointers related to taking care of the elderly in these times.
Keep in touch and be positive
Be it news in print or on social media platforms, there is a lot of negativity linked to the pandemic. Hence, it is important to keep the environment in the house positive. Do not watch news all the time as it might be upsetting and misleading. Seek information from credible sources like government websites. In case if you are staying away from your parents, the most important thing to keep them happy during this crisis is to call them frequently and assure them that they are connected.
Help the elderly understand the need to practice social distancing to keep them safe. It is tough for older adults who cherish the time spent with friends and family members to maintain social distancing, so reassure them that you are close by.
Another way of letting them know that they are not alone is to get their medicines, groceries and other essentials delivered at home. Schedule regular medical check-ups and fix an appointment with the doctors via online consultations. Keep in touch with local health care services and have their contact numbers in case of an emergency.
Sufficient rest and nutrition
Senior citizens need proper sleep and some amount of exercise. Their sleep cycle should not be disturbed due to the changes because of the lockdown. Certain food items might not be available in the market, but they should get adequate nutrition and efforts need to be made to ensure it.
It is difficult for elders to exercise within a house. Unlike the younger generation which can workout at home by performing basic strength-based exercises and dancing, the older generation does not have multiple options due to age limitations. They can do yoga, meditation and walking to stay active.
Involve senior citizens in activities. Be it watering 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.
Enjoy recreational activities
Bring out those board games that usually stay in the cupboard. Elders can play cards 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.