In light of coronavirus (COVID-19), the Health Secretary advised that people over the age of 70 should self-isolate for up to four months. This is the best way you can stay safe and protect the NHS.
Unfortunately, it’s this age group that’s at the highest risk of isolation. According to Age UK (and reported by NHS), more than 2 million people in England over the age of 75 live alone. And, alarmingly, more than a million older people say they go for over a month without speaking to a friend, neighbour or family member.
At the moment, tuning into the news can feel frightening – especially if you’re by yourself. But the good news is, we’re living in more connected times than ever before.
From online tech to traditional befriending schemes, here are some of the best ways to stay connected during self-isolation.
Embrace the online apps
Along with the handy FaceTime (if you have an Apple device), there are a variety of great apps out there that can help you feel closer to those you care about.
WhatsApp is free to download on your phone and has some great functionality to keep you feeling connected. You can message friends and family privately, create group chats and make video calls over the internet (just make sure you have a strong wired or Wi-Fi connection). What’s more, you can actually pair your phone with WhatsApp Desktop (if it’s more comfortable to chat using your computer).
To start a conversation simply go to hangouts.google.com or open Hangouts in Gmail (if you have a Gmail email address)
Next, click New conversation and enter a name or email address to send an invite. You can also send the web page link to your friends and family via message or email and allow them to join.
If you use Google Chrome, you can also install the Hangouts Chrome extension. This will open in a new window. Google has more information about using Hangouts here.
Finally, Houseparty is a face-to-face social network that allows you to have video calls and play games with the people you care about. It’s free to download and you can use it on your mobile device or computer.
We understand that not everyone has friends and family to reach out to. However, there are still plenty of charities that can help arrange support.
Connect to your local community group
COVID-19 Mutual Aid UK is a group of volunteers that are helping local community groups organise aid throughout the current outbreak. They provide helpful resources and can connect you to your nearest local group. So even if you have carers that are looking after the day-to-day, it’s reassuring to know that there are other friendly faces nearby.
Just pop your postcode into the search bar on the local groups page and it will let you know who’s in your area.
Arrange a telephone befriending service
Although charities have paused physical volunteer visits, most are still providing invaluable support over the phone:
- Independent age are still running telephone befriending services: 0800 319 6789
- The Silver Line has launched an emergency appeal to help isolated elderly people during coronavirus. The team is available for a chat 24/7: 0800 470 80 90
- Re-engage is still offering call companions during the outbreak: 0800 716543
If you don’t feel ready to speak to someone over the phone, Mind has helpful resources on looking after your mental wellbeing while isolating.
Contact Careium in times of crisis
At the moment, the NHS 11 service is likely to be overstretched. However, our personal alarm service can help provide valuable reassurance at the press of a button. We provide 24-hour, 365-day monitoring so you can talk to someone whenever you need to. Careium also has a telephone checking service where we can call at an appropriate time to see that you’re OK. We’ve written more about how telecare can help during coronavirus and self-isolation here.
But whatever you do, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. For more advice and support, give us a call: 0300 333 6511 or email [email protected]