How to Help Our Elders During the COVID-19 Outbreak

Elderly woman taking prescription.

We still have limited information (and LOTS of disinformation) on what the novel coronavirus is all about. But one thing’s for sure, based on currently available information and clinical expertise, older adults (aged 65 and up) and people who have serious underlying medical conditions, especially lung disease, heart disease, and diabetes have a higher risk of getting COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Given the threat that COVID-19 poses to our elders, it’s natural to worry about our family members, friends and neighbors, which is why we should look for ways to help them as much as we can.

Here are some ways to safely extend a helping hand:

Practice strict social distancing.

Staying physically away from them may be the saddest, but it’s the most helpful way to protect them from being exposed to the virus.

Be consistent with giving social support.

Physical distancing doesn’t mean that we can’t connect and do things for them.  Check in with the older adults in your family and neighborhood by calling them, sending a text, or even leaving notes on their front door – whether it’s just letting them know that you are thinking about them, or offering your service if they need anything.

Prepare food for them.

When cooking for yourself or your household, make a little extra and set it aside for your elder loved ones and neighbors, considering their allergies and dietary restrictions. You can just put it in a disposable container, deliver to their doorstep, sanitized and with a thoughtful note.

Shop and deliver their needs.

Most older adults are fearful to go out nowadays, and sometimes when they do, the shelves are already empty, so doing the grocery shopping for them is a big help.  You can buy the essentials or ask what they exactly need. Call your family members and leave notes on your neighbor’s doors to contact you if they need something from the shops. Aside from groceries, also ask them if they want anything from the pharmacy.

Help with their medications.

Speaking of pharmacy, other than going to the pharmacy yourself to have their prescriptions refilled, you can also arrange an ongoing delivery for them. You can also ask the pharmacists to pre-package medications in blister packs with designations for morning and evening, since elders sometimes tend to forget. Also, you can offer to give them a call to remind them to take their meds if they don’t mind that.

Encourage the use of technology.

Teach older adults on how to take advantage of technology to connect to their loved ones or shop online for their needs. If they don’t have their own gadgets, you can lend, loan or gift them with a user-friendly one that they can use.

Donate money, food and other essentials.

If you are unable to go out and volunteer your time and service, you can donate money, food, groceries and other essentials to local and national nonprofits, to reach out not just your loved ones and neighbors but a lot of people as well.

Be an inspiration to others.

Inspire others to help in whatever way you can. This is the perfect time to put your social media and charisma to good use.

Remember, there are many ways to help and there are numerous people who need a hand if you ask them. Make calls, and leave notes at doorsteps to ask how you can be of help, whether it’s shopping or running important errands.

About Toni Marie

Toni is a contributing author. In addition to writing about the Baby Boomer generation, she also likes to write about relationships and health.
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