Coronavirus: How to Keep in Touch With Elderly Relatives During Lockdown
We are 30 days now into lockdown, and we find ourselves in a position where keeping in touch with elderly relatives, has never been so important.
Many elderly people around the country are currently shielding and self-isolating, due to age and medical conditions. This is a time of extreme loneliness and isolation for some, who are unable to see family or friends as they would usually. It is also a time of increased anxiety and concern, for their own health, as well as that of their loved ones. All they see of the current situation is what is on the news, so a little reassurance and support can go a long way.
Below, we have put together some tips on how to keep in touch with elderly relatives during lockdown.
Telephone calls are an easy, old fashioned way to keep in touch. There’s no need for any special gadgets, or requirements for further learning for an older person who may not be particularly comfortable using technology. Hearing your voice will brighten your loved one’s day and provide a welcome form of human contact, albeit not face to face.
If you want to add a face to face element to your calls, there are a variety of options. If your relative has access to a smartphone, tablet or computer, there are a range of tech solutions to help you stay connected. From the slightly easier Facetime, Facebook and WhatsApp video calls, to the slightly more complicated Skype and Zoom. The beauty of video calling is that your relative will feel more included in the family unit. You can show them what the kids have been up to, the progress you’ve made on tidying up the garden, or even include them in a family quiz (if using Zoom).
Age UK has a fantastic guide on how to use different systems for video calling, which includes instructions and demos.
If your relative has a smartphone, tablet or laptop why not guide them on how to set up a Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account. Not only do these accounts help them to keep in touch with you and your wider family; they also help to keep your loved one connected to their local community and their friendship groups. There are groups on social media that they can join, concerning specific interests; such as cooking, or knitting, or bird-spotting. These can help them to get fresh ideas on how to keep busy during the lockdown.
A mixture of telephone calls and emails may be the perfect solution to help you keep in touch with an elderly relative. Emails will allow you to attach photos or links to things that you think your loved one may be interested in. Chances are that your loved one will have already learned how to send and read emails, which means that there is no need to learn new skills.
For those of you will elderly relatives who do not have a smartphone or internet access, sending post may well help you to keep in touch during lockdown. It can offer an opportunity to send little gifts, such as puzzle books, magazines, or a favourite bag of sweets. It is also a nice opportunity for the kids to make a special picture, or write a letter to send to your loved one.
There are of course risks associated with posting items, however. The postal service is already stretched at present, so if you can use one of the above options the majority of the time, it would be better. The other risk, is sending items that could potentially be contaminated into the home of your loved one. Ensure that you and anyone else involved in creating a letter/parcel washes their hands thoroughly first and cleans items, where it is possible to do so. It is also important to stress to your loved one, the need to clean anything down that comes into their home and to thoroughly wash their hands afterwards.
Staying well and healthy is so important at the moment. Keeping in touch with elderly relatives during lockdown, will not only help to keep them mentally healthy, but also reduce your anxieties about their wellbeing.
Together, we will get through this.
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