News National Here’s what you can do to help the elderly during the coronavirus pandemic

Here’s what you can do to help the elderly during the coronavirus pandemic

Australian retirements
We need to look after the elderly while sticking to the strict no-touching to stave off the coronavirus. Photo: Getty
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The scale of the coronavirus pandemic is hard for all of us to comprehend and there is still a lot of information that we don’t know.

But amid the confusion this fact is clear: Among those most at risk of dying from the virus are the elderly, especially people who are already unwell.

Although there is no evidence yet that shows older people are more likely to contract the virus than younger people, it is possible their naturally weaker immune systems due to ageing makes them more likely to suffer the worst symptoms.

Given the threat that COVID-19 poses to our elders, it’s natural to worry about our grandparents, friends and neighbours.

It’s well worth remembering that younger people have an important role to play in helping older Australians get through this tough time – whether that be by giving them a helping hand or by washing our hands.

Here’s what we can do.

Take them on a grocery shopping spree

One way to help is to drive your grandparents to the supermarkets during the exclusive shopping hour for the elderly and people with disabilities.

The dedicated daily shopping hour was created to make sure vulnerable people no longer miss out on groceries and essential items amid coronavirus-induced hoarding.

Woolworths and Coles will open from 7am to 8am exclusively for the elderly and those with a disability.

Some IGA shops are also opening early.

Eligible customers will have to produce a relevant government-issued concession card.

The measures are in place until at least Friday.

If you have elderly neighbours, let them know you can help out with grocery shopping.

They might not know who to ask.

Why not drop a note in the letterbox?

Elderly Kew residents, many on their own, arrived early to buy the essentials they desperately need. Photo: AAP

Check in on them, but visit only under strict conditions

It’s a scary time for our grandparents and it’s important to let them know you are there to support them.

Pick up the phone and call them regularly to ask how they are going and what they need.

Drop off books, puzzles and games.

But be sure to keep them entertained while keeping a distance of 1.5 metres apart – that’s a requirement of the ‘social distancing’ strategies in place to limit the virus’s spread.

Tell them about your day and share some funny stories (it might be a good idea to take everyone’s mind off the health scares).

If your grandparents live in an aged-care facility and you want to visit them, it is vital you follow the rules announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday.

Do not underestimate the danger of accidentally infecting aged-care residents.

Some facilities like Villa Maria Catholic Homes are already in total lockdown to prevent infection.

The new rules:

  • Only two visitors are allowed at one time per day
  • Visits must be held in the resident’s room, outdoors or a specific area – not in a communal area
  • Visits must be limited to a short time
  • Do not visit an aged-care facility if you have returned from overseas or have been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the past 14 days
  • Do not visit if you have flu-like symptoms
  • Visitors who have not been vaccinated against influenza after May 1 are banned
  • No large group visits or gatherings are allowed, including school groups of any size
  • You must maintain your distance of 1.5 metres
  • Children aged 16 years and under must only visit by exception.

Be inspired by the helpers

In times of tragedy, there are always people caring for others.

Stories have already emerged on social media of people lending a hand to those who need it.

Talk to your friends and brainstorm some ideas of how you can reach out to people who might not have any close family nearby.

Some businesses are going the extra mile for the elderly, like Melbourne’s Aangan Indian restaurants, which are offering free take-away meals for senior citizens from 5pm to 6.30pm every day.

We may not do too many great things, but we can positively contribute by doing such small deeds with GREAT LOVE for our…

Posted by Aangan Indian Restaurant on Monday, March 16, 2020

Even though it’s hard, try to be grateful.

Many of our grandparents had to go to war – or keep the country running and families healthy while others fought.

We are just being told to stay at home.

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