For authoritative and up to date advice on coronavirus, please refer to the NHS website which features advice for high risk individuals.
Keep checking in
Older people are especially vulnerable to loneliness and isolation as well as depression which might be aggravated by the lack of contact and dreadful news during coronavirus lockdown. Checking in more frequently (phone, facetime, shopping deliveries etc) will be helpful. Arranging for your parent to contact you at certain times – perhaps when they awaken, are up and dressed, at lunchtime, or before they go to bed - can give you peace of mind and create some kind of structure to their day.
If you think they might find it useful – or they know someone else who would - then you could share the number for The Silver Line a helpline for older people (0800 4 70 80 90). This is a free confidential helpline, founded by Esther Rantzen, providing information, friendship and advice to older people 24 hours per day, every day of the year.
Organise medication and specialist supplies
GP surgeries can send prescriptions for repeat medication and specialist medical supplies electronically and larger pharmacies have delivery services. Of course, there is an inevitable gap between requesting a prescription and it being delivered and so planning ahead is vital. This is especially important during busy or locked down periods when services might be less timely.
If your parent has run out of a medicine which they need urgently and they don’t have a prescription then a pharmacist will probably be able to provide an emergency supply. This will be easiest to organise if you can show that they have had it before – a copy of a repeat prescription, a finished box or bottle of tablets, all with their name and date of issue. The number of days of treatment a pharmacist can supply will vary according to the medication or situation.
Don't hesitate to seek medical advice
Not withstanding the risks of corona virus infection, lock down, social isolation, changes in activity and routine can all have a knock on effect on our health especially for older people. If your parent feels unwell, they may be reluctant to seek help fearing that they are adding to the burden on the NHS or putting themselves in harm’s way but the Chief Medical Officer has made it clear that the NHS is still there for everyone, every problem and not just for coronavirus. GPs are increasingly using telephone or video tools to give advice which minimises the risk of any cross infection. If you are concerned about your parent then seek help, – even small changes such as sleeping more, can lead to serious problems in older people.
Keep them safe from phone scams
Phone calls may be the quickest and easiest way for you to keep in touch with your parent but, sadly, they are equally as easy for fraudsters. WHICH? has a good description of the most common types of phone scams affecting older people with advice about how to deal with each one and we have more ideas for action in our guidance section.
Keep the freezer stocked
As well as delivery shopping for groceries and ready meals, or supplying them with your own plated dinners, you might want to enrol with one of the specialist food delivery services which are used to delivering frozen meals to older people. Our Carents variably recommend two main brands - Oakhouse foods, and Wiltshire Farm Foods.
Some of our carents also recommend making and freezing batches of individually packaged sandwiches for their parents to ensure there is always a quick and easy snack in the house.
Encourage activity and motivation
See our information about deconditioning syndrome and the vital importance of staying motivated and active. "Get up, get dressed, keep moving".
Consider whether technology could help?
The challenges and changes caused by Coronavirus are prompting us all to find new ways of living. Perhaps now is time to maximise your parent's digital tech skills and explore whether any there might be any new technology to help you all.
Some of our recommended charities (in our neighbourhood directory) have online shops featuring specialist products which can help specific health problems.
New products to support assisted living are constantly being developed and can enable you to monitor home safety from a distance.
The NHS is working with Amazon‘s Alexa team to offer health information by voice search.