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How do I help seniors through COVID-19? Northumberland experts have answers

Experts share advice for seniors, their families and loved ones #KeepSeniorsSafe


NORTHUMBERLAND — Our seniors need our help to get through this pandemic.

Northumberland News caught up with local experts recently to gather some advice and helpful tips for seniors and their families and loved ones.


Do not spend a lot of time focusing or dwelling on the big picture, says Micki McLean, the general manager at Palisade Gardens Retirement Community in Cobourg.

McLean’s been working at the retirement residence since day one.

“We have to take this day by day,” she says.

This means each and every day, focus on making that day better and on something that’s going to make you feel better, rather than dwelling and looking ahead six weeks from now and worrying, says McLean. This could mean taking the time one day just to do your hair or even for a shower, says the manager.

Experts agree that self-care is key for mental health.


“Keep in contact with family and friends and neighbours as much as possible,” say Community Care Northumberland staff. “Isolation has caused increased loneliness for many people and your call could make all the difference.”

Technology can help.

Try eating dinner together over a video call or another family activity virtually. Even if your mom or dad aren’t hooked up with an iPad or iPhone, the good old-fashioned telephone still works.


But if they are hooked up with an iPad, even something as simple as setting it up so that grandparents can watch their grandkids play can make a world of difference, says McLean. Families really need to stay connected right now — family contact should be a priority daily or as much as possible, she says.


ROUTINE IS IMPORTANT:

“Follow a routine and keep positive,” says senior Hal Jacobsen, who is also the president of the resident council at Palisade Gardens.

Experts tend to agree that familiar patterns and routines can be helpful to people during times of struggle. (Planning can be your new best friend).

If there’s something your family normally did prior to the pandemic but now cannot do due to the COVID-19 crisis, such as meeting for Friday night dinner, try adapting and making it happen virtually.

Maybe it works and maybe it doesn’t. Maybe in the process, you’ll discover something new. Be open.

ASK FOR HELP/CALL FOR REINFORCEMENTS:

If they’ve got the food and isolation parts taken care of, the next single most important thing is a good state of mind and one’s mental health, says Josef Ger, Retirement Life Communities’ president and chief executive officer. People can help with that by staying in touch, but sometimes it’s not easy, and sometimes seniors don’t have families, he notes.

If that’s the case, if you’re struggling to keep in touch with mom or dad or are a senior feeling isolated, the next step is to call in reinforcements, he says. There are others and groups that will answer the call for help, including some amazing volunteers who are helping families and seniors through this pandemic, says the CEO.

In other words, no one should go this alone and local experts urge seniors if they need help to just reach out.


“We are happy to help at your local Community Care Northumberland to get whatever kind of assistance that you are looking for,” say staff. “If we can’t offer you what you need directly, we probably know who can.”


Visit www.commcare/ca/contact.html for more info.


-Northumberland News | Sarah Hyatt

240 Chapel Street,

Cobourg, Ontario

K9A 0E3

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