Coronavirus and The Elderly: Tips for Families


The Coronavirus pandemic is gathering pace, with cases reported in almost every country in the world, and entire nations temporarily shutting down in order to slow the spread of the disease. Here in the UK, the Government’s strong dictate of social distancing has been tantamount to an almost enforced ‘lockdown’, where our rights to leave our homes, and travel, have been severely curtailed. The effects of these measures on our mental and physical well-being, our jobs and finances, and our society as a  whole have the potential to be severe. However, there are things we can do, in the best British traditions, to make the most of this situation we all find ourselves in.

1.  Understand what you and your family can and can’t do during the lockdown.

Regulations recently passed through the UK Parliament prohibit us from leaving our homes for all but the most essential reasons. To protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities – we all must adhere to these restrictions.

So, what can we leave our homes for?

    • Shopping for essential foods, household items and medicines: This should be done as infrequently as possible, so if you usually shop every one or two days, condense your shop and errands to once a week or once a fortnight (the less frequent, the better)
    • Attending work: Discuss with your employer if and how you can work from home.  Individuals whose jobs cannot possibly be carried out remotely from home are allowed out to work.
    • Exercising: You can only go out to exercise with members of your household; while there are no legal restrictions on how many times you can do this at present, the government recommends only going out to exercise once a day. You can also use this time to walk dogs.

2.  “Can I visit other members of my family?”

During this time of crisis, you may feel a deep urge and sense of duty to visit loved ones, particularly older members of the family, to make sure they are okay and have everything they need. However, it is very important to not visit family members.  Older people are likely to be more vulnerable to Coronavirus, and so the best way to keep them safe is to stay home and avoid the risk of infecting them.

As a result, visiting hours at care homes in Cambridgeshire, such as Paxton Hall, have been temporarily suspended in line with this. Other institutions closely involved with elderly care are very likely to have enacted similar procedures.

3.  “How can I keep in touch with loved ones?”

For older relatives who are living independently, keeping in touch over the telephone is the best way and is vitally important! Not only does it allow you to make sure that they are okay, and have everything they need, but it also can bring a welcome respite to long hours of isolation.

Using video calling systems like Facebook, Skype or WhatsApp where possible can also make a big difference in

4.  Keeping fit and healthy:

During the lockdown it can be tempting to adopt some unhealthy habits, such as comfort eating or reducing activity levels. While this is an understandable strategy to mitigate stress and anxiety, it can sadly backfire. Failing to look after our physical health can actually make us more stressed and unhappy down the line.

So, make sure you and your loved ones keep eating balanced meals, keep exercising once a day, and avoid smoking and alcohol where possible. A healthy body can go a long way towards creating a healthy mind.

5.  Revive old interests, learn new skills, keep busy.

Ever notice how time seems to go slower, the less we do? There’s nothing quite like boredom to make the clock tick ever-slower!

So, if you find yourself at your wits’ end for something to do, think about what you enjoy doing or wish to learn – be it doing the crossword, making things, writing, painting, learning to play a musical instrument or cooking.  Perhaps you have been meaning to have a big sort-out, in which case, now is a great time.

Keep busy, keep talking, keep healthy!