The ongoing pandemic has not been good for senior citizens. Vulnerable to the threat of catching COVID-19, those 60 years old and up were only recently allowed to enter commercial establishments for essential goods and services after being prohibited from doing so in the first months of the world’s longest lockdown. The novel coronavirus has greatly interrupted their lives, leaving most of them feeling alone, isolated, and anxious about the future.
New normal protocol like wearing facemasks and face shields and practicing social distancing to prevent the spread of the highly contagious COVID-19 only heightens feelings of isolation and loneliness. And until pharmaceutical companies can come up with a vaccine against the virus, the elderly will remain fearful of the risk of being infected by this invisible enemy. (Read: Vatican Launches Campaign to Promote Appreciation for the Elderly)
This disturbing reality is not lost on the United Nations, as it marked the 30th year of the International Day of Older Persons on October 1. “We reckon with the disproportionate and severe impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has wrought on older persons around the world—not only on their health, but on their rights and well-being,” says UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
It doesn’t take much to be a source of comfort to the seniors in your life during these challenging times. Here are three simple suggestions:
Comfort the Elderly by: Checking up on Them.
From a good old-fashioned call on a landline to a high-tech video chat on Zoom, there are many ways to reach out to the elderly—and no more excuses not to. Those who feel forgotten and alone will surely brighten up at the sound of your voice and the fact that you remembered them. (Read: 5 Ways to Strengthen Relationships While Social Distancing)
Keep the conversation light and positive. Also, listen to them. Ask them how they’re doing and what they’re feeling—and keep your word when you tell them you’ll be seeing them soon or calling again. That will give them something to look forward to.
Comfort the Elderly by: Teaching Them the Trends
Upload a video of grandma and grandpa doing a TikTok dance—or better yet, join them in the video! Sometimes, it’s good to be silly: Lord knows seniors need a good laugh every now and then. (Read: Xian Lim Grants Wish of His Lola Who Was Diagnosed With Cancer)
Comfort the Elderly by: Helping Someone Together
“By turning our attention toward helping others, we make everyone feel better—ourselves included,” said an article in Psychology Today. “We not only find relief from our depression and anxiety, but also improvements in our relationship.”
Pack relief good together and donate them to communities or groups that were badly affected by the pandemic. Prepare hot meals and deliver them to hardworking frontliners. Donate old books and magazines to a school or a place that could use them. Try Reading Club 2000—an “aklatan sa bangketa” run by former accountant Hernando “Mang Nanie” Guanlao, who readily accepts books and gives them away, all for the love of reading, learning, and sharing.
Whatever you choose to do, you’ll both feel uplifted by the experience of making a difference in other people’s lives—plus, you’ll have good memories to look back on and recall for many years to come!