A GUIDE TO KEEPING THE MIND AND BODY HEALTHY DURING SELF ISOLATION
by ASJAD NAZIR
THE global outbreak of coronavirus is affecting all areas of society
and has brought the world to a literal standstill.
The elderly are most susceptible to the killer disease and are having their lives disrupted, with government orders being planned to keep them indoors for up to four months. That includes around two million people aged over 75, living alone. This will not only cause inconvenience, but can also affect physical and mental health. If you fall into that category, know someone elderly or are caring for a senior citizen, here are some helpful tips during this dramatically difficult time caused by Covid-19.
Keep away from sick people: It seems obvious, but needs to be reiterated and should be at the top of any to-do list during this emergency. The elderly need to stay away from people, including relatives, who have coronavirus symptoms, including a dry cough and fever. This should include at least a few weeks after they have recovered. There are other ways to remain connected like phone and video calling.
Stay active: Spending a prolonged period of time indoors will inevitably lead to long periods of inactivity and that is why it’s really important to remain mobile. If indoors, there are still physical activities that can be done like walking around the house, gardening, gentle dancing or logging on to see exercise classes for the elderly on sites like YouTube.
Stay healthy: There are multiple ways to keep the body and mind in a good state while indoors and it all starts with having a healthy diet. Have well-balanced meals and drink plenty of water. In terms of mental health, perhaps take up new activities like painting, writing or home DIY and stay connected to others, if even by phone or Skype. Keeping a communication channel open is important. For those who are alone, there are national charities like Silver Line and Age UK that have excellent call services, which offer friendship, advice and information. Whether it’s being in the garden, on a balcony or near an open window, get as much fresh air and sunlight as possible.
Use the internet: It is a fact the elderly will use the internet a lot less than younger people, but when in self isolation it is a useful tool that offers infinite help, including information, entertainment and online shopping. If you know someone elderly, help them learn and set them up with a good broadband speed. If you fall into the older bracket and need to get connected, reach out for help, like senior citizen charities offering free advice.
Shopping: It is important to have a good supply of essentials, including food and medication. Online shopping is simpler than most people realise and you can have goods delivered to your doorstep. If you know someone elderly, volunteer to do their shopping and keep checking they are well-stocked. Lidl and Tesco in Ireland announced dedicated hours for the elderly to shop before other members of the public, and other stores are likely to follow. There are plans to set up hotlines for the elderly so they can get supplies and charities like Silver Line have a 24-hour helpline – 0800 4 70 80 90.
Stay informed: The advice and guidelines are changing on a daily basis, so keep connected to any updates, whether you are elderly or know someone who is. This includes potentially life saving information, but also what rights citizens have during this time, including help with things like mortgage payments. If you are unsure, reach out and ask for help.
Visit responsibly: Anyone visiting an elderly person should wash their hands thoroughly before and after they arrive. Write down a reminder for people who are entering a house where an elderly person is. Definitely, don’t visit someone elder if you have been near someone who has been ill or have been unwell.
News diet: Although it is important to be informed, limit the amount of time you watch the news as seeing the same repeated doom-filled stories can affect mental health. News generally doesn’t change much hour to hour, so you don’t need to bring undue worry and stress by watching it constantly.
Relax: Take time for self-care by relaxing the mind and body. Whether it is listening to soothing music or doing yoga, regularly do indoor activities that will keep you calm during a stressful period. If you live with elderly relatives, participate and make it a joint activity.
Keep busy: Last but not least, keeping busy will make the time go by quicker and will also keep the mind and body healthy.