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A plan for elderly parents self-isolating during Covid-19

A plan for elderly parents self-isolating during Covid-19

We’ve set up a Facebook group for people caring for the elderly through Coronavirus – Visit Group

How to plan time for eldelry parents in isolation during coronavirus

How elderly parents and relatives cope in self-isolation as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic is a cause of deep concern for so many people.  How to plan time for elderly parents in isolation from coronavirus?

This is a guide to help them (and you) to manage and enjoy time – particularly if they live alone and at a distance from family.

Maintaining positive mental and physical well-being throughout this period is going to be a bit of a challenge for most of us, let alone those who are requested/required to stay at home.

Creating a new routine

No doubt your parents and elderly relatives have a routine already in place: but with the prospect of many days merging into each other and usual activities cancelled or significantly curtailed existing routines will need to be amended. Having a routine is comforting plus it provides a framework around which to build the rest of the day or week.

The best advice we have heard (from someone who spent months at a time literally suspended in time in a submarine) is:

  • Make a routine now, test it, write it down and stick to it
  • Divide the day up into different segments – daily chores, communications, exercise, rest etc

With both of these in mind, The Age Space Time Well Spent plan includes the following elements:

1. Daily Activities – the main framework

These are the everyday things we all do: wash, make the bed, regular housework, cook and eat, garden, walk the dog, an afternoon nap, shop.  And where possible these should continue to be the bedrock of every day during the week, with time off for good behavior at weekends of course!  

2. Keeping connected and healthy

Keeping connected

This, along with keeping healthy are the two most important aspects to the brave new calendar of activities.  Time should be set aside every day:  Skype chats with family, or Whatsapp chats with grandchildren; email/phone chats with neighbours. 

There’s also the opportunity to go retro and write letters – at this time in particular how lovely it will be to receive an actual letter in the post, however illegible it might be – from those of us who stopped even signing cheques some time ago now😊.

We will all need more reasons to stay in touch with family, neighbours and friends as life slows down: how about a street or online book club?  Or perhaps a Skype cooking group sharing favourite recipes or store cupboard ingredients. 

There is also technology available for sharing games and hobbies online – from virtual Pictionary to super sophisticated bridge.  This will all become increasingly important over a self-isolation period.

Keeping healthy and taking exercise

Staying healthy and well if you’re not allowed to leave the home is difficult, particularly without your own outside space. Try and encourage a daily exercise slot in the calendar – even a couple of turns around the garden – whether for the body or for the mind.

There are no perfect solutions, but there is exercise for older people on BBC Breakfast three times a week thanks to the legendary Green Goddess;  for the more adventurous there are myriad online/youtube classes for yoga, pilates. 

There are also lots of great websites/guides for indoor and even armchair exercise.

3. Household/home projects

A long staycation at home lends itself perfectly to getting a few of those nagging ‘chores’ finally done: tidying out the kitchen cupboards – with the upside of finding lots of new ingredients (sell by dates notwithstanding);  sorting through the photographs; rightsizing the wardrobe;  rummaging in the garden shed or garage. 

Some of these tasks will take an afternoon, whilst others will see someone through many weeks.  Be warned though – it may be hard to dispose of all of the items cleared out – and who wants to have to put everything back again…

gardening projects during 12 weeks islation from coronavirus

A gardening project – whether in containers on a windowsill or in the garden – will likely give many people some peace and calm; not only can time be measured through the progress of the plants, but the prospect of eating your own veg or fruit will be an additional bonus.  

Maybe start a new veg patch, or try and grow something out of the normal – chillis or peppers perhaps;  a cutting patch of flowers in a pot or the garden will certainly add some colour to life. If you can’t get to the garden centre (if they’re even open) you could buy online from for example Otter Farm or national garden centre chains like Dobies.

4. A Coronavirus list – time well spent

A Coronavirus lockdown list is not as gloomy as it might sound; rather a way of planning in new and interesting activities for elderly people:

  • Write a life story – fantastic for all the family: it could also be recorded on a smartphone and sent weekly to grandchildren for example
  • Doing the family tree – online services such as Ancestry
  • Learn a new language – resources include eg Babbel
  • List of books to read – and share/discuss
  • Study a course – from U3A to
  • Visit a museum or gallery from home with an online virtual tour
  • Learn to cook a particular cuisine 
  • Knitting, art, craft etc

Different activities can be divided into long-term, medium and one-off projects for the purposes of the calendar. Definitely ensure there are highlights every week of Coronavirus isolation- a particular meal, virtual theatre “outing” or book group.

The Age Space Time Well Spent Plan

There are some guidelines to help make a good plan:

  • Use the daily routine as the framework and add other activities around it
  • Keeping connected and taking some exercise should be priorities every day
  • Have “destination events/activities” – something to look forward to every week – such as a virtual trip to the theatre or cinema;  or a specific group Skype call;
  • Have a mixture of long-term, medium term and one-off lockdown list ideas every week

Two other bits of useful guidance we have heard:  don’t be too over-ambitious at the start – no-one likes a to-do list that never gets done, and secondly this is a marathon not a sprint so every activity/task should be taken leisurely;  cooking for example is a great way to relax so taking time over the evening meal will have a number of benefits.

This may seem heavy-handed for someone in their 80s who has been quite happy tootling about themselves until now, but keeping up a routine and having a todo list might become more difficult as the Coronavirus isolation period rolls out and the health crisis deepens. 

We all want to keep eachother safe, secure and as happy as anyone can be.  And how gratifying by the end of all of this to have ticked a few things off the list in a new language.    

We will be updating activities and ideas as the next few weeks unfurl.

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