Coronavirus has turned our world upside down. The measures that have been taken are unprecedented: drastic and at the same time necessary. What will this mean for your Easter plans? In particular, for our older loved ones confined at home. We have put together some practical tips to keep our seniors engaged this Easter and get them through those times of social distancing.
This year there are no special Easter activities like we used to know them. Unfortunately, big Easter brunch family gatherings, long weekends away, trips to the beach, visit to the grandparents and going to church are off the cards. We will have to stay at home as much as possible and limit our face-to-face interactions with others; we are doing this for ourselves and for each other.
The government has asked everyone to celebrate Easter from home and not to undertake any holiday travel. This is also the safest option for those living with a chronic medical condition like lung or heart disease, diabetes etc. COVID-19 is a very contagious disease and you would be at risk – if contracting the disease – to have serious symptoms that may have very dangerous consequences. Don’t take the risk, it is not worth it!
This Easter long weekend is literally going to be a very quiet weekend: for some of us, it will, unfortunately, be a confusing, anxious and sometimes lonely time while self-isolating. Don’t be embarrassed, it is completely normal to feel this way given the circumstances.
You can stay connected with your family and friends via Skype, Zoom, FaceTime or WhatsApp. If you are not so tech-savvy, ask someone to set this up for you and you can be on your way to an online connection with those you care about.
If you feel confined at home, ask your family, friends or neighbours to help you with picking up your groceries or medication. Quite a few supermarkets and pharmacies also deliver to your door. Australia Post is offering free Express Post to send medications to vulnerable members of the community. Take advantage of that and contact your pharmacy to see if they offer the service! In NSW, you can also call the Service NSW Hotline on 13 77 88. They can help you make arrangements for any of your needs.
What can you do during social isolation?
If you don’t have any symptoms of COVID-19 like coughing, fever or shortness of breath there is no reason to limit physical activity.
- Exercise and movement are vital for healthy physical and mental wellbeing. It is important to keep exercising to maintain fitness to strengthen your immune system. Take a walk outside and enjoy the benefits of fresh air and sunshine. It is a great way to stay active! Make sure to wash your hands when you come back.
- We realise that online sessions are never as good as face-to-face interaction, but it is the next best thing for the moment. Why not participate in a group exercise class online? The National Institute on Ageing has launched Go4Life Workout videos aimed at keeping older people healthy and active. You can follow the classes on YouTube. Why not try it out?
- You can also choose to download a strength workout app to your smartphone. There are several short workouts available that don’t require any special equipment.
- If you prefer something less intense, why not try a yoga class online. Deep breathing and mindfulness will reduce anxiety. The Virtual Social Centre provides simple training programs for seniors online.
- Older Women's Network NSW has arranged some online classes to keep its members active over the Easter break. They also created a chat group to ensure that you remain connected, informed and active. The activities will be done through Zoom. If you would like more information, visit their website. You don’t need to be a member to join.
- If you like reading, but can’t go to the library as they are closed, Audible has released quite a few audiobooks for free, without having to sign up.
It is completely natural to have feelings of stress, anxiety and loneliness in those times. You are not alone. There is help for you.
The Commonwealth has made bulk-billed telehealth services available to all Australians. You can access mental health consultations with doctors, psychologists and psychiatrists online without extra costs. This means you can have your appointment via a video call, like Skype or FaceTime.
If you're feeling anxious and in need of someone to talk to, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14. They have received extra funding to help more people during this coronavirus pandemic.
From having to practice social distancing and getting used to life indoors to continuously washing our hands and wearing masks, this year our Easter break will be very different.
Please look after each other and in particular, our more vulnerable older loved ones. It is heartwarming to see how people find inventive ways to connect; how we learn to appreciate each other again and to be open to what is really important in life: the love and support of our loved ones. Happy Easter!