“Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it”
Amid the chaos and uncertainty surrounding the global pandemic, there is one undeniable fact: older people are at a higher risk, especially the ones that with a medical condition like diabetes, hypertension, heart problems, and autoimmune disease, etc.
According to medical experts, older people are more likely to get infected if exposed due to their weak immunity and severe effects that comes with it once the person gets coronavirus, like breathing problem, lung infection etc. Families that have elder parents, grandparents and relative living with them, are worried about what extra precautions they should take to keep them safe from this pandemic.
It is important that we practice social distancing in a time like this, especially to keep our elders safe and protected; it is very important that we don’t isolate them or make them feel that they are alone. Social distancing doesn’t mean that we cut off all contacts. We have to consider the psychological impact and overall mental health of our older population as well.
There are certain preventive measure that needs to be taken to keep our loved safe as recommended by the World Health Organization and specialists around the world. It is advised that social interaction be kept to a minimum and if need be, certain guidelines need to be followed; like sanitizing your hands before entering a person’s home, wearing a mask to keep yourself safe and those around you, regular cleaning and disinfectant of surfaces at home which have been touched. Since most of the elders share the space with their family, it is important to keep in mind to sanitize the door knobs and handles, remotes, switches, tables, etc. Utensils should be washed in hot water and dried properly, clothes, bath towels, of older people should be washed separately to avoid infection.
Pick an emergency contact or appoint someone nearby for your elder parents and grandparents who you could rely on if you fall ill. Educate your elders on the symptoms and the necessary preventive measures that should be adopted to keep themselves safe ad protected during these tough times.
As the cases are increasing in India, it is difficult to gout for essential without having the fear of getting infected; which is essentially the case with older people. Therefore it is requested that if there are any elders in your locality, community, and building, who stay alone that you could help them by purchasing essential goods for them and deliver them in their house. For those whose elder parents are living apart, please connect with them over call or face time once in a while, write a letter to keep in touch and make them feel safe and comforted. Making sure that elders have food supplies and medicines to last them at least for two weeks, making purchases for them online so that it gets delivered at home and they don’t have to risk their health by going outside. Find out the contact details of the stores that can deliver food and medicines to the house in your absence or if you are not able to do it yourself.
The social crisis also beings an opportunity for personal learning, so inculcating a new habit or a hobby to keep elders occupied are important. Since elders cannot go out, their mobility is hampered. They might get irritable and this may affect their mental happiness. It is advisable to engage them in some form of physical activity and keep them occupied by going on walks with them within the premises of their community or house, reading out loud to them, spending quality time with them, etc.
In a time like this, it is important to show compassion and empathy for each other. Humans are social beings by nature and are intended to live in harmony; helping each other in times of crisis is a useful way of sharing resources to support social and mental wellbeing. In the case of COVID-19, a well-connected and educated society can respond more efficiently. This will allow us to survive and overcome the pandemic as individuals and also support public recovery in the longer term.