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Coronavirus: 5 Ways to Protect the Elderly

What is the Coronavirus?

The "Coronavirus" is actually the name for a family of different viruses, and acts as a blanket term for them. Currently, the world is experiencing a pandemic of the COVID-19 virus strain, which has become more commonly known as Coronavirus. The spread of the virus is all over the news, and there are a lot of myths out there surrounding it; for example, taking antibiotics or eating large amounts of garlic won't protect them from infection. This guide will help you with real, proven steps to help prevent infection in your elderly loved ones.

What's the danger to older people?

It can be easy to panic in situations such as these, especially if you have elderly parents with less resilient immune systems.

For most people, Coronavirus shouldn’t be a big worry, as the majority will easily fight it off without experiencing severe symptoms.

However, older people are certainly at a higher risk of developing more dangerous symptoms, with the first big analysis of more than 44,000 Coronavirus cases from China showing that the death rate was ten times higher in the elderly and very elderly than that for those middle-aged or younger.

Therefore, the spread of a new virus can understandably be very scary for those with elderly loved ones. But there’s still some good news, as the risk of catching Coronavirus can be easily reduced with some very simple and effective prevention tactics.

5 Ways to Protect Your Elderly Loved Ones

Don't Panic

Keeping calm is important for everyone's safety It’s important to remember not to overreact. It can be easy to let hysteria take hold and think the situation is worse than it is. Most importantly, don’t encourage them to panic buy, and don’t panic buy for them. This can deprive others of essential items, and help the virus to thrive amongst the public.

Practice Good Hygiene

There's more to it than some may realise It goes without saying, but practising good hygiene is incredibly important in preventing any sort of sickness or infections. Encourage your elderly loved one to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds with soap as often as they can. For example, this could be done before or after every meal, and whenever they leave or come back to their home. This doesn't just have to be if their hands are visually dirty, just whenever they can to ensure complete cleanliness. You could also use a reminder system, to help remind those who have issues with their memory. Using tissues when sneezing or coughing in public is also greatly advised, or using the 'vampire cough' (coughing into your elbow) when a tissue isn’t available. It's also a good idea to avoid hugging or handshaking when greeting someone, to avoid passing any infections on. Hygiene around the home should be encouraged too, for example, disposing of food waste or tissues frequently, and keeping surfaces disinfected and clean with wipes or other cleaning agents if they run out.

Self-Isolation

Methods to make it safer Staying at home may not be essential, but recommending that your loved one avoids public or crowded spaces can be a good way to prevent possible infection.  If they need to self-isolate, make sure they have food and medicine in stock, or recommend they have it delivered to the door (making sure the delivery driver leaves it on the doorstep). If they absolutely need to carry out essential travel, then try and make it a private vehicle of a family member or friend (not public transport). If that's not an option, then taxi's are better than buses, trains and trams (as being close to others will increase the chance of infection). However, tell them there is no need to self-isolate unless advised to do so by a doctor, or an official government statement. 

Avoid Visiting Them if You're Sick

It could have more of an impact than you realise. This advice should be followed at all times, but especially whilst a major virus is spreading.  Visiting your elderly loved one when you’re sick can spread the infection. Most people won’t be harmed, but it’s dangerous to spread it to the elderly especially.  Be sure to stick to this advice when around any other elderly people as well. Any elderly person you see is much more vulnerable, so keep a safe distance to reduce the risk to them of being infected. If you have the virus, you may not even know and you could pass it on very easily, so be extra careful.   There are always ways to stay in touch with loved ones remotely, such as them using an easy to use tablet or phone designed for the elderly, to exchange pictures, messages or video calls.

Keep Them Informed

Up to date information is crucial in fighting the virus.  Share only non-sensationalised news reports, official government briefings, WHO/NHS statements and advice with them. It can be hard for the elderly to stay informed of the most recent information, especially if they don’t use the internet.  Avoiding fake news about the virus is also very important, so make sure to use fact-checking websites like FullFact to get real, accurate information.  

Reducing Loneliness

How can tech help? It can also be hard to keep in touch with elderly relatives who have to self-isolate, so we've selected some gadgets specifically designed for elderly users that can help them keep in touch.

GrandPad: Tablet for Elderly

Ideal for complete tech beginners The GrandPad is more than just a tablet for elderly users, it’s a service specially designed around the needs of older adults. It reconnects people with loved ones and includes unlimited 4G internet, music streaming, 24/7 personalised support & more.

Easy to use Smartphone for Elderly

Ideal for low to medium tech confidence The ultimate easy to use smartphone for elderly users. A great choice for anyone using smartphones for the first time. All the benefits a smartphone can offer, but in an easier and more straightforward way.

Useful Resources

Check out the websites below to get all the information you'll need about Coronavirus, with updates on the virus' progression as well as helpful tips on how to protect yourself and your elderly loved ones:

NHS

Great for symptom checking, general answers about the virus and medical advice for anyone concerned about it.

WHO

Global news about Coronavirus, with medical advice and infection prevention measures.

GOV.UK

Find out how the virus is progressing in the UK, and get any official updates on the measures you should take to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Full Fact

Use this to check facts abotu the virus, and cut through the fake news circulating about it. This can help you to put your mind at ease, and get perspective on the virus without sensationalised reports.