What can families do to support the elderly during the lockdown ?


It is widely known that Covid 19 has made elderly people an easy target. Therefore, they need to be taken care of, as much as possible. On one hand, the lockdown is proving fruitful to control the spread of coronavirus and on the other, it has restricted elderly people to their homes. Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said “The coronavirus outbreak is obviously a huge worry and looks likely to be challenging for our older population”.

The biggest problem elderly persons are facing is the absence of their regular walks, which is needed to maintain their health. There is an increment in their worry of not being able to go for a walk and staying at home which may impact their wellbeing. Another problem is of non-availability of medical services such as physiotherapy. Those who depend on physiotherapies are unable to call the therapist. A survey by HelpAge India estimates that 6% of senior citizens in our country live alone. Loneliness among elders during lockdown is a big problem. As neither they can visit their family nor can their family come to meet them.

Those families living together with their elders can support the elderly by giving them various tasks such as gardening, which significantly reduces depression. Helping them to be equipped to the latest technology can also be looked at in cases wherein the elderly are enthusiastic enough to learn new things. Another way might be to make them write something- a short story or maybe this is the time they can pen that memoir they keep talking about. Staying physically active is highly important nowadays, families need to make daily activity plans that keep the elderly move within their homes or the garden. It is better to keep their minds busy with various activities such as cooking new recipes, reading, and puzzles. One can also ask them to spend time working on an art form which they have been always fascinated to do. Cross-stitch, adult coloring books and even a stack of crosswords may help in keeping their minds occupied. Some anxiety-free exercises can be performed with them such as breathing in and out, holding the breath for a few seconds, which in turn can help them in staying calm.

Those who are away from their elders need not feel helpless that there is no way out. They can have daily phone calls to check and to ensure they are keeping in good health and spirit. Talking about funny and distracting things over the telephone shall divert minds of elderlies. Taking about TV show’s storylines, sharing mischievous deeds by children, discussing creative dinners one has been preparing could help them feel close to their families. Families can give a list of helpline numbers also so that elders can get help easily as they might not be accustomed to googling. For example, AgeUK, Independent Age and Mind, have helplines. Some of them also have befriending services that can cater to them in having a friendly phone chat. Even a geriatric psychiatrist, Debanjan Banerjee, says as COVID19 cases continue to soar, the physical and psycho-social health of our senior citizens warrants urgent attention, now more than ever before.

In a nutshell, elders have to be shielded from social contact, even though it is an important activity in their lives and hard to keep them away from. It can prove to be extremely risky for them. Therefore, it is the sole responsibility of family members to stand by them, especially during this pandemic situation. Let us stand by them in this challenging time.

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