An old Kashmiri saying goes that Buzurg te Bache gov Kuniye (A child and an old person are the same). While the cataclysmic trauma of COVID-19 has hit all age groups alike, this crisis has particularly highlighted the need to provide an empathetic solution to the daily challenges faced by our elderly population.
As we are aware that older people are more likely to have underlying conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or respiratory illness. These comorbidities increase the risk of severe COVID-19 and sometimes even death. In addition, a likely weaker immune system makes it harder for older adults to fight off infection.
As a result, the impact on senior citizens is notable. According to the latest survey by NGO `Agewell Foundation’, the COVID-19 situation has affected the health condition of 26 percent of the elderly population in the country, who ranked it as their premier cause of concern, while 24.95 percent said the pandemic has caused psychological issues to them.
For the survey, the NGO interacted with 10,000 senior citizens across 27 states and Union territories.
In such a situation, elderly people rely on their social connection more. The elderly and retired sometimes need a helping hand. They often need to have people around them.
Here are some ways to ensure our elderly people remain safe:
Social engagement can happen with social distance
Older people would be missing out on their walks, chat sessions, and evening tea talks during this time. This could be a big problem for them, as it is their daily routine. Teach them to engage socially via technology. Set up group chat sessions online, live exercises, and even spiritual classes for them. It’s time for them to know about the new normal of society.
Build Physical Immunity with Mental Health
The pandemic has taken a toll on the mental health of a lot of people, and for those who live alone, it is a cause of worry. Talk to them and connect with them to see if they are okay, their mental wellness is what will keep them going during this time.
Also, aged people might find it difficult to approach their doctors for regular check-ups. Get them in touch with physicians online or make them speak to doctors so that they can be sure of their health conditions.
Offer a Helping Hand
It is not safe for anyone to step outside. For the old, it is all the more challenging task. Help them in buying groceries, medicines, and essential items. Teach the art of online shopping and payment so that they don’t have to feel dependent on anyone. It’s a way to ensure that they stay indoors and stay safe.
Practice and preach the safety measures
Make sure that you are well sanitized and follow all the necessary steps before you approach an elderly person to help. Try and talk to them about Corona, ensure that they have access to all the right information about COVID 19 and the precautions that need to be taken. Speak to them about the importance of lockdown and social distancing.
Stay in Touch
The biggest fear during this lockdown is to be left alone. Take timely updates from them, and talk to them about how they are doing during this quarantine. If they are away from family and friends, keep their families posted. The people who need a caretaker can use some extra help during this time, only if we plan to take out some time for them.
These could be some ways to remain connected with the elderly, to make them feel that they are a valuable part of our lives and our societies.
Senior citizens are a reflection of how we see ourselves in the future. We might find it difficult to manage this while juggling between work and household responsibilities, but a casual interaction or a phone call will reassure them that they have the support and a helping hand at bay. It is time to be a responsible citizen, neighbour, and friend to all.