Caring for older people during the Covid-19 outbreak 

At this time, many of us are wondering how we can support older members of our community. In many ways caring for older people is just like caring for anyone else – because they’re people just like all of us. But just like anyone else who needs to isolate at the moment, it is great if we can support them. Here we share ideas for how you can help. 

1. Give them a ring
Older people, especially those who live alone, and aren’t able to get out as much as they usually do due to self-isolating or social shielding may be feeling lonely. Why not give an older person you know a ring? Calling for a chat and catch up – telling them what you’ve been up to and asking how they are can make a huge difference. Remember to talk about something other than the coronavirus. At Bishop Ridley Church, we are arranging regular calls to people who might be feeling isolated. If you know someone you think might benefit please let us know by emailing info@brchurch.org.uk. You can also pass on the Silver Line number: 0800 470 80 90 and Age UK also have an advice line: 0800 169 65 65.

2. Ask if they need practical help
We all need a little help at times but many of us are reluctant to ask. Take the awkward away by asking if you can pick anything up for them while you do your shopping? Or perhaps you can collect a prescription for them? Just remember to keep to social distancing and no contact drop off. If you are aware of someone who needs some practical support but you can’t help for whatever reason please let us at Bishop Ridley Church know. We have a team of people ready to help with all these things and more. Just email info@bishopridley.org.uk or call 020 8303 9998. 

3. Encourage them to look after themselves
It’s extra important we all do things to look after ourselves at the moment. Like all of us, older people need plenty of fresh air and exercise. If they don’t have a garden they can safely use, encourage older people to at least sit by an open window at some point each day. Exercise helps us all to feel better, even simple chair exercises. Doing other things we enjoy like our favourite hobby, watching our favourite film or reading our favourite book also helps. 

4. Support silver surfing
According to Age UK, lots of older people are online. In 2016, they reported that 39% of people aged 75+ had used the internet in the last three months and nearly three quarters of those aged 65-74 had used the internet in the same period. Many older people are avid facebook users and maybe keeping in touch with loved ones via facetime. You can also suggest they try Elefriends from Mind, an online community for older people. 

5. Old-skool care
As an antidote to digital contact, why not keep in touch the old fashioned way through sending a letter or card, if you have children you can ask them to create something like a painting or drawing to pass on to an older person. Or why not send a small gift like flowers? 

Finally, don’t forget we have a team of people ready to pray, so please send your prayer requests to prayer-requests@brchurch.org.uk

When all of this is over, perhaps you will have built a stronger relationship with an older person that you’ll both benefit from. 

Do you have ideas for keeping in touch with and caring for older people at this time?

For more ideas please see: 
Age UK’s Advice on Coronavirus
Age UK’s ideas for helping older people through the coronavirus outbreak
The BBC’s guide to looking after older relatives
Mind’s Support for your mental health
 

Mark Tariq, 06/04/2020