Dr Matthew Cullen, Psychiatrist, St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney
Covid-19 has been very challenging for older people. In fact challenging for all society, but older people who are often already fairly isolated, they become even more isolated during this period.
Why? As you would know governments have been very direct that particularly older people who are living in residential aged care facilities or older people who may be still in their own home, that broader family members have been encouraged to socially distance and stay away from one another.
So older people, also and on the challenging side of things tend to be less connected from a technology point of view. Older people tend to have less social media access that younger people do.
So how do we address all of this? I think the most important thing for younger people particularly if they have a relationship with the older person, is to have a regular point of contact. Telephone may be old fashioned – there may only be a landline – but this is still an invaluable way of helping that older person be connected.
Visiting where it is considered safe to do, and maintaining social distance is very important. Having a predictable set routine, so the older person knows when that individual is going to make contact.
If it’s possible, teach them how to utilise social media channels such as Facebook which may provide broader connectivity.
Finally the good news is of course as we are filming this, that some of the more strict social distancing measures are coming to an end, starting to embrace the older person in that way that you have done before, and trying to engage them and bring them into your life and lifestyle to the extent that you can, and that you feel is safe.