Tips for Helping Elderly Relatives to Stay Connected

Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, is beginning to gather pace in our communities. So we’re all doing our part to limit the spread of the illness as much as possible. For many of us, that means adopting practices known as ‘social distancing’ – including cancelling social events, staying away from pubs and restaurants, and postponing holidays and trips. For older people, this can mean extended periods of isolation. However, there are ways to keep our loved ones socially connected, active and upbeat in these troubling times!

Important Coronavirus Advice & Key Points for Public Safety

The British Government and the NHS have released a smattering of different advisory notices to help minimise the chances of catching and of spreading the virus. These include additional focus on things we and our loved ones may already do, such as regularly and thoroughly washing our hands, and ensuring that we use tissues to catch coughs and sneezes and binning these immediately thereafter; but they also include advice for all us to, essentially, keep away from each other and socially distance ourselves.

This can mean that some of the daily interactions we and our relatives are used to might be cut short, or, be temporarily suspended. Everything from visiting each other, spending time together,  being able to chat with the postman at the door, or with the delivery driver who brings in the groceries, to popping down the local for a drink and a chat will be curtailed.

Of all these measures, it is extremely important to practice social distancing in our everyday lives – namely avoiding visiting or meeting up with others – especially the ‘at risk’ and vulnerable individuals; and if individuals do meet, then maintaining a distance of at least two metres between each other.  Other measures include avoiding all non-essential travel, washing hands regularly and thoroughly with soap and water for at least twenty seconds, and following advice from Government conveyed via the media on TV, Radio and Online.

Keeping our relatives in contact with us and their friends during the outbreak.

Coronavirus will come to an end. Until then, our elderly relatives are safest staying at home or indoors. Unless your elderly loved one is a tech-whizz, we need to support them in taking advantage of telecoms and technology, from using the phone line to using broadband – and especially how to get set up to use the online mode of communication

Take advantage of the internet and Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are great ways to meet new people and keep in contact with friends and family. You could set up a ‘group’ on a system like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp and then over the phone, teach your relative how to use it to stay in touch with you and others, and even start video calls. On Facebook, in particular, there are communities to serve all kinds of interests and enable people, who are passionate about or interested in the same things as your loved ones, to meet.

Online games such as the ones you can find on Facebook Messenger (such as Words with Friends or even Battleship!) are great 1v1 games that you can play remotely with people you’re friends with on Facebook! Again, supporting elderly relatives to learn how to use their mobile phones and iPads and other electronic gadgets in this way is a great way of helping them retain some independence and social interaction during this trying time.

Dust off the telephone. Encourage your relatives to get out their old Rolodex or even Christmas card list – and get dialling! It’s always a pleasure to hear from somebody that you haven’t spoken to in a while. Don’t catch Coronavirus but do catch up with old friends on the phone!

Also, Age UK and other charities offer the service of individuals your loved ones can talk to and have a chat with and signposting your relatives to these services is a great way to help them cope.

 

Paxton Hall is a beautiful care home in Cambridgeshire, offering specialist dementia care, respite care and palliative care.

All of us at Paxton Hall want to reassure our community, residents and their families, that we are doing everything possible to limit potential exposure of our residents to Coronavirus and are using a variety of technology (Telecom, Whatsapp, Facetime, Skype) to enable our residents to maintain communication with their loved ones during these challenging times.

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