How to Help Elderly Neighbors During a Quarantine?

Last week Courtney wrote in to ask, “How can we help elderly neighbors during a Covid-19 quarantine?”

First, let me say, “Thank You, Courtney for caring!”

We’re all in this together, even if we’re not allowed to be within six feet of each other.

Here are recommendations from health professionals and my thoughts.

Prepare - before a crisis

Create a network of neighbors, relatives, and friends, to help in an emergency. Set up a phone tree. Meet each other. Maybe even use an app like NextDoor.

Identify who the elderly and vulnerable are in your immediate neighborhood before a quarantine goes into effect.

If you haven’t met them yet, now’s a good time. Even if they’ve been standoffish in the past, make a new effort.

If you need a phone number to check on someone that you don't know, try using the reverse directory: Enter the address and often a phone is listed.

Better yet, you can leave a note-card introducing yourself, your concerns, and willingness to help. Be sure to include your contact information.

If they’re willing, set up an alert system. For example, if the living room drapes aren’t open by 9:00 am, it’s a signal they may be sick or need help.

Find out if they have family or close friends nearby. Get their contact info. Call and introduce yourself. Then, if you suspect a problem, you have someone to call.

Also, if your elderly neighbors are a couple, one may be the caregiver for the other. Find out if they have an emergency backup plan in case the caregiver gets sick. If there’s special equipment like oxygen, find out if you should know how to work it. Make sure everyone knows how to operate necessary equipment

Make sure they’re stocked up on essentials to last at least 2 weeks. Don’t forget the pets.

Make sure they’re stocked up on books to read, yarn for knitting or any other such supplies.  

During an active outbreak and quarantine

Keep your distance. The elderly are more vulnerable. You might be infected or be a carrier without knowing it.

During a quarantine, Home Delivery services may get overwhelmed and swamped with orders. So, offer to do shopping for your elderly neighbors.

Especially fresh fruits, salad, and vegetables.

Leave the grocery bag on the porch or some other pre-arranged place.

Offer to take pets for a walk.

Next to the virus itself, loneliness and isolation are the biggest dangers. Depression can creep in during a prolonged quarantine.

Pick up the phone and call, text, or email. You can use WhatsApp, FaceTime, or Zoom for that face to face feel. Having afternoon tea and conversation online is better than nothing.  You could even have a “mini book club”. Decide on something you all want to read and then discuss it via Zoom.

Boost your own immune system to stay healthy so you can help others

  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Get outside in fresh air.
  • Eat healthy. I know we all want to hunker down with comfort food but now’s not the time. Sugar, alcohol, and carbs deplete your immune system.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Turn off the news and turn down your stress levels.
  • Meditate.
  • Take your vitamins and probiotics.

And, in case you haven’t heard it enough, wash your hands!

Health and blessings to you all as we survive Covid-19,

Jenn Buman

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