The coronavirus outbreak has developed rapidly, and the UK Government has now advised that everyone should remain at home. People should now only be leaving their homes for a limited number of exceptions i.e. to get essential food or for medical reasons. The elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions have been identified as being most at risk of developing serious complications as a result of Covid-19. For that reason, they have been told to self-isolate at home for at least 12 weeks to protect themselves from the virus.
There is much uncertainty during this unprecedented time, and many people have been left feeling unsure how to support their elderly loved ones. To help make things easier, here is everything you need to know about caring for the elderly during coronavirus.
Is it safe to visit the elderly during coronavirus?
The simple answer is no -it is not safe to visit the elderly during the coronavirus outbreak, even if they are members of your family or close friends. This is because those over the age of 70 are far more likely to develop serious health conditions and sadly pass away as a result of contracting Covid-19.
Age UK explains how the virus is extremely infectious and spreads in the same way as the common cold or flu. This means that it can spread when an infected person touches a surface, i.e. a door handle, which someone else touches, or when an infected person comes into close contact with a healthy person. There is, therefore, a high chance that you would pass the virus on to an elderly person if you visit them.
You should also be aware that the incubation period for Covid-19 can be up to 14 days, so an infected person may not show any symptoms for up to two weeks. If you don’t take the recommended precautions, then you could potentially spread the virus to hundreds of people before you know that you’re infected, including vulnerable people who are unable to fight the virus as effectively. For that reason, you should avoid visiting or coming into contact with the elderly wherever possible, as it is the best way to protect them and save lives.
How can I support the elderly?
These are challenging times for everyone, especially the elderly and vulnerable. As mentioned, the elderly have been advised to stay within their homes for at least 12 weeks, which presents challenges when it comes to accessing essential shopping items such as food, medicine and other necessary supplies. Fortunately, you can help your elderly family, friends and neighbours by offering to do their shopping. Leave the shopping bags on their porch or doorstep and make sure you keep a distance of at least two metres (ideally, you shouldn’t come into contact with them at all). The elderly can also shop online at most major supermarkets and have food delivered to their homes. You can make their online food order if they are not particularly confident using the internet.
Please make sure that elderly relatives to wash their hands thoroughly after handling any shopping bags or packaging. The NHS recommends washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with warm water and soap to kill the virus effectively.
Most national supermarkets have dedicated shopping hours for the vulnerable and elderly, including those who are shopping on behalf of someone from these protected groups. Many are also prioritising delivery slots to the vulnerable and elderly too. To find out what your local supermarket is doing for the protected groups during the coronavirus outbreak, you should visit their website.
How can I stay in touch with elderly loved ones?
Naturally, many people feel extremely upset about being unable to visit their older relatives for an unknown amount of time. However, it’s important to remember that this rule is in place to protect the health of the elderly. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to stay in touch with your loved ones during the coronavirus outbreak. Social media sites and platforms, such as Facebook and WhatsApp, are a great way for families and friends to stay in touch. You can use instant messaging apps and video services, such as Houseparty, to chat with your elderly relatives and maintain family bonds while you are practising social distancing.
If you feel that an elderly loved one is going to suffer from a lack of social contact during the recommended period of self-isolation, then you could consider arranging care. A professional carer can visit your elderly loved one and provide a much-needed source of companionship during this difficult time. Many qualified carers are dedicating their time to visiting elderly people to chat, play games or do tasks around the house. If you feel that an elderly relative or friend would benefit from the companionship of a carer, then give our friendly team a call on 0808 278 2589.
It is essential that everyone follows the UK Government’s advice and obeys the social distancing rules during the coronavirus outbreak. We understand that you may feel desperate to visit elderly friends and family members during this time, but you must remember that these measures are in place to protect the health of the most vulnerable. You should avoid visiting the elderly at all costs unless you are dropping off food and other essentials. In this situation, you should follow the precautions mentioned above to minimise the risk. Use social media and communication technology to stay in touch with your elderly loved ones.