8 Ways to Help Seniors and Vulnerable Populations during the COVID-19 Pandemic

New precautions around COVID-19 are coming to us at a rapid pace. One thing we know for certain is that individuals over 60 years of age and those with pre-existing health conditions are most at risk of severe illness from COVID-19. While some advice provided in this article may not be applicable in the days or weeks to come, here are  some actions friends and families can take now to help put our seniors and vulnerable populations at ease during these difficult times.

1.  Appoint a Personal Shopper.

Send a healthy friend or family member to stock up on food, medications, word puzzles, and basic essentials for your loved one, but practice caution in the process.  Have this person carry and use hand sanitizer, wipe down any door knobs or surfaces touched in the senior’s residence, etc.  As hard as it may be, avoid hugs and close contact with the senior. If your loved one resides in a seniors’ centre, call the facility to inquire about their emergency visitor policy before going.

2. Look for "Golden Shopping Hours."

Many grocery stores and other providers have announced on social media channels that they will hold special shopping hours for seniors and vulnerable populations. Call these stores before making your trip to ensure these hours have not been cancelled, and use your best judgement as to whether your loved one should be attending these special hours. 

3. Beware of Fraudsters.

When talking to your loved one, remind them to never provide any personal or banking information to anyone over email or the phone, even in difficult times such as these.

4. Enjoy the little things.

Even when it seems like the world is crashing down around you, it is important to stay calm. Take comfort in reading and sharing Bible passages,  phoning each other daily, and doing any activities that bring you a piece of mind, such as exercise, cooking and baking, or adult colouring books.

5. Breathe in fresh air.

Encourage your loved one to crack open a window, sit outside on their balcony, or ask a caregiver to stroll with them in a low-traffic area if their mobility allows.

6. Be Prepared.

Use the extra time you have at home to create an emergency resource list, and have the basic necessities to be self-sufficient for at least 48 hours.

Choose a segregated bedroom and bathroom in your home that can be used for sick family members if necessary. Clean these rooms regularly if you have a tenant.

Know the steps for COVID assessment in your area. Due to the high volume of calls to 8-11, the Alberta Government has launched an online self-assessment tool for those experiencing symptoms.

7. Follow the recommendations by health and government authorities.

You’ve probably heard it before, and you’ll probably hear it again:

  • Avoid large groups and close contact with others.
  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water, or apply hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol) as often as possible.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your arm.
  • Disinfect high-touch surfaces
  • Stay home if you are sick, or have come in contact with someone who is ill.
  • If you have travelled internationally, follow the 14-day quarantine process, even if you are feeling well.

8. Make an Online Donation.

Many not-for-profits are having to cancel their major fundraising events in light of the pandemic, and staff are being asked to work from home. Yet, nurses and doctors continue to show up for our most vulnerable, and put their own health at risk every day. Consider supporting charitable organizations, be it a Hospital Foundation, a Food Bank, or your local seniors’ organization. Most places allow for online donations on their website, so you don’t have to worry about the transfer of germs.