It’s fair to say that 2020 has been an incredibly challenging year. But although we’ve all made sacrifices through spring and summer, we need to continue our efforts throughout autumn and winter if we want to help protect the elderly and vulnerable. After all, the coronavirus statistics are clear: of England’s 30,000 coronavirus-related deaths, 16,000 of those who passed away were aged 80+ and a further 11,000 were aged between 60 and 79.
However, although the coronavirus pandemic still looms large over all of us, there are other threats to the health and safety of the elderly. As a result, here are five ways that you can help ensure your elderly relatives are safe this winter.
#1 Get a coronavirus test before you visit them
Although visiting people inside their home is banned under the newly-introduced ‘high’ and ‘very high’ tiers of coronavirus restrictions, providing care to someone who is vulnerable is deemed as an exception to the rule. Similarly, if you’re in an area where the coronavirus alert level is high, you can still meet your elderly relative in their garden.
However, when you visit an elderly relative, you should do everything possible to ensure social distancing in case you’re an asymptomatic carrier of the virus. If it’s not possible to maintain social distancing because you need to provide close-contact care, or you want to make sure you’re definitely not a carrier for your own peace of mind, consider taking a test before you visit.
#2 Check-in regularly over the phone
If your elderly relatives are shielding or you can’t visit them due to the alert level in your area, you should call them regularly. Phone them at least once a week to check whether they need anything and let them know that, if they do require any help, you’re there for them. Crucially though, make sure you dedicate time to the call and ask them about how they are and how they’re feeling. By having a deep, meaningful conversation with them, they’ll know they have your support.
If you’re busy and you can’t quite dedicate the time to this, then why not create a rota with other family members? Then they get to hear from several different people, too.
#3 Offer to get their shopping…or show them how to order online
One way you can really help your relatives during these uncertain times is to do their shopping for them. If they’re anxious about the virus, they’re likely to find the shopping process quite scary. This makes sense because there are quite a lot of contact points and it can be difficult to ensure social distancing on the aisles of a supermarket. To help them, why not volunteer to do a shop for them and drop it off at their door?
Alternatively, if you don’t have time to shop for them and they have an internet connection, you can show them how to do an online shop. It can be difficult to get a delivery slot, but many supermarkets are prioritising vulnerable customers.
While you’re at it, if your elderly relatives are savvy enough to get online, then it’s also worth introducing them to other forms of technology that will improve their daily lives. By showing them how to use Skype or FaceTime, you can establish deeper and more meaningful connections. Plus, if you show them how to do a group call, they can see everyone at once.
#4 Make sure they get their flu vaccine as scheduled
Although your elderly relatives need to be wary of coronavirus, you need to be aware that there are other threats to their health. Statistics show that 15 million people in the UK are vaccinated for the flu every year, including everyone over the age of 65.
You should ensure that your elderly relatives still get their flu jabs as scheduled. Although they may be anxious about leaving the house, you should convince them to visit the doctor because research shows that people who are at heightened risk from coronavirus are also at a greater risk of complications from the flu.
#5 Stress the importance of exercise
Exercise is very important for the elderly. It can help keep illnesses at bay and it can also improve strength and health. However, if your elderly relatives aren’t leaving the house then they’re probably not getting as much exercise as usual. For this reason, you should introduce them to some exercises they can do at home in order to stay fit and healthy. By doing these exercises regularly, they’ll find it easy to maintain their physical health.
Although we’ve all made sacrifices this year, keeping up the momentum during the winter is key if we’re going to beat coronavirus. If you help your elderly relatives by doing the five things mentioned above, you stand the best chance of keeping them safe and happy even during the harshest winter. Hopefully, in only a few short months, we’ll be able to see good times ahead.