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Taking care of your elderly loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic

The curfew and containment period was extendThe curfew and containment period was extended and we cannot travel to see our elderly parents and/ or grandparents upcountry. And with the cases of COVID-19 still growing, it is not advisable. This is because people above 60 have been identified as among those most vulnerable to COVID-19, with severe- even deadly- cases of infection. People in this age tend to have more chronic conditions than the younger people, lower immunity while diseases and conditions recovery often tends to be slower and more complicated, hence their vulnerability. But although we cannot be with them physically, we can still take care of them.

The elderly need a lot of social support for their well-being. As such, we need to practice social distancing and not social isolation. If your loved ones are far away, call them regularly. This is a good time to teach them how to use video calls so that they can get to see you. Where you are not affected by the containment, you can prepare meals for them and deliver while keeping the number of in-person visits minimal.

Run errands for them or facilitate it. Get them food, medical supplies; whatever they need. And where you cannot do it yourself, identify one person near them that can attend to them whenever necessary. This person can also help them to set important numbers on speed dial.

If your elderly loved ones are taking medicine, it is important to remind them. Also keep them away from hospitals by encouraging phone consultations over face to face. As much as possible, avoid unnecessary hospital visits. But in cases where they need more elaborate medical care such as dialysis, then you need to plan with the relevant medics especially where your loved elderly ones are affected by the containment.   

During this unusual period, reassure and give hope to your loved ones.

Most importantly, educate them about how they can protect themselves, as well as the symptoms to look out for.  

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Christine Nderitu

Licensed Nutritionist and Public Health Practitioner, Christine, helps people lead healthy lifestyles through health education and behaviour change practices that are simple and practical. She writes a weekly (Monday) nutrition column in the People Daily and is experienced in nutrition management, research, health education and promotion in; HIV/AIDS, Sexual and Reproductive Health, Maternal and Child Health and Non-Communicable Diseases. She has been engaged in these activities since 2011. Christine feels the world needs more stories that celebrate and normalize desired (good) behaviour. And humanity-we have many preventable and often manmade public health issues today.