It is more important than ever to find ways to help the elderly stay connected, not just with the current situation but also in the future.
It’s certainly the most unprecedented of times for everybody while the Coronavirus pandemic takes hold for people across the world. While it is a new and extremely unusual situation, it could be argued that some sections of society are more geared up for it than others. For the younger generation, it is very much second nature to communicate with friends and family via a mobile device on social media, video calls and other electronic methods. As the generation demographics get older, the familiarity and use of technology for keeping in touch diminishes and ultimately with the elderly, it is often a method of communication that they quite often don’t use. With this in mind, we have some ideas and options for helping the elderly stay connected when physical contact is being limited.
Before 2020, the term ‘social distancing’ didn’t even exist but now it’s something that we are all very familiar with. Keeping two metres apart may be easy for some as they go out for a walk or some exercise but what about if you can’t get out at all? It may seem like second nature to a lot of people but FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Zoom video chat and more can be quite daunting and confusing if you don’t know what you are doing. However, if you can set up an elderly person with one of these facilities then it could open up a whole new world for them. Just being able to take part in a video call rather than a simple phone call can make all the difference and really help to break up the periods of isolation.
You may not have an elderly person directly in your life but that doesn’t mean that you can’t help someone who might need it. There are many elderly people who are not connected to friends and family or may not have any at all, this is where organisations like Age UK come in and help lonely people. You can volunteer with organisations like this who keep in touch with lonely, elderly people either through regular phone calls or even visits (observing the social distancing rules of course). It’s a great way of contributing to your community and helping people out who need it and that little bit of human contact can make a huge difference to someone’s day.
One of the best and worst things about the ‘always on’ generation in which we live is that there is 24-hour news coverage available at our fingertips. This means that we are always fully informed about what’s happening, however you can have too much of a good thing and it can get saturated and overwhelming. For some people, the TV is their only connection to what’s happening in the world and it can become a bit of a crutch. This endless, repetitive stream of news (and usually bad news) can lead to anxiety and unnecessary stress. If you can, try and advise that watching the news is limited to just a morning and an evening so that they can stay on top of events that are happening without it becoming a grind.
Our care providers are continually, if not more so currently checking in with our clients and their families to give updates and reassure them but there are things you can help do too. If you are part of a social group that includes elderly people, think about setting up a rota or a system that means that everyone can check on the most vulnerable members. It means that everyone can share the responsibility and those that are in need get to see a lot of different faces. The contact can be via phone or video chat, visiting or just simply collecting shopping. Whatever it is, a little help and contact can go a long way.
So, in these extraordinary times it’s important that we look after everyone as best we can. Helping the elderly stay connected may not be easy and may mean that some new skills need to be learnt but you could be helping someone more than you’ll ever know.