The current pandemic has affected intrafamilial relationships in most households. Younger people are feeling disconnected from their elderly relatives and in the same vein, the elderly are struggling to cope with the emotional stress brought upon by the marauding virus.
However, we don’t have to allow our elderly loved ones to suffer on their own. They need our emotional support at this time. But how do we help them navigate these emotionally charged times?
Read on to discover some effective ways to support the elderly during the pandemic.
Keep them informed
The main problem most older adults face during this pandemic is misinformation. The influx of stories and data from multiple unverified sources takes a toll on the psyche. And since most of this news is negative, it can bring about feelings of heightened stress and uncertainty.
However, you can assist elderly loved ones to keep level heads by providing them access to real news sources. Exercise patience and show them how to distinguish true facts from fake news. Alternatively, you can provide them with access to daily news articles from verified sources.
Contact them regularly
Social distancing is necessary, but that doesn’t mean that you should abandon your relatives without any form of contact. Provide your elderly loved ones with devices and teach them how to contact people. Also, make sure you check up on them from time to time.
If possible, make regular visits and bring them supplies (groceries and medication).
Find an emergency caregiver
If you cannot provide direct care, hire a certified caregiver on standby for your elderly relatives. These senior care experts are well-trained to handle older people, even during pandemics. They will provide them with high levels of care, as well as the human contact they need to maintain emotional balance.
Help them handle the weight of losing peers
According to the WHO, 90% of COVID deaths are people over 60 - and most of these seniors have at least one pre-existing condition. So, this highly alarming stat means that your elderly relative might have lost one of their peers or close friends.
The emotional impacts of these deaths can take a toll on their mental health. So, whenever you hear that one of your elderly l peers is sick or dead, be there to provide support and love.
Provide them with access to support groups
Although support from family members can help, seniors need support groups to cope with emotional stress. However, avoid any group that involves physical contact because they can become hotbeds for the virus to spread.
Instead, look for virtual support groups with certified senior caregivers. Also, encourage your beloved seniors friends to join the support groups in order to build a sense of camaraderie.
Give them a reason to laugh
The news around the pandemic is already stressful enough for your older relatives.
Instead of sending articles likely to stir up fear or uncertainty, send some links to a funny video or feel-good story. Call them and reminisce about good times in the past.
Encourage them to stick to their daily routine
Sudden changes in the daily routine also affect the elderly. This pandemic has forced most people to restructure their activities. However, not all older people can handle this change without coping mechanisms.
If your elderly relatives’ activities before the pandemic can be done without external contact, convince them to continue. This will help them retain a semblance of normalcy in their daily life.
Encourage physical activity
Introduce exercise and other physical activities in their daily routine and buy training equipment for them. Encourage elderly loved ones to head out for short walks at least once a day to change their scenery (while abiding by social distancing regulations, of course).
Organise virtual meetups
The most effective way to say ‘I care for you’ to your elderly relatives is to connect them to the virtual world. Teach them how to talk to their grandchildren and other friends.
We are all going through tough times. But if we can take care of each other, we can get through this pandemic. The elderly also need our help, even if it is from a distance. Let’s not forget that they need emotional support too. Reach out to them and keep their spirits up as often as possible.
This article was kindly written and contributed by Amanda Dudley.