A NEW VISION OF AGING FOR CANADA

Long-Term Care Centers Closed to Public

CARP is suggesting family and friends of seniors find alternate ways to stay in touch

by: Victoria Walton

On Sunday, the government of Nova Scotia announced that all long-term care homes are closed to visitors until further notice.

“We all have to do our part to reduce the spread and keep Nova Scotians health and safe,” said Premier Stephen McNeil.

But with the measure in place to stop the spread of coronavirus, seniors are worried about increased isolation.

“We need to be concerned about how we deal with those seniors who are quarantined or living alone and not getting the visitors that they normally do,” says Bill VanGorder, spokesperson for the Canadian Association of Retired People (CARP) Nova Scotia.

VanGorder says seniors are already more isolated than the rest of the population, and have a harder time getting out in public now that the virus is spreading.

“One of the key areas is the whole area of fear and stress and anxiety around the whole issue. Seniors are finding that they’re getting information from all sides,” he says.

CARP is suggesting family and friends of seniors find alternate ways to stay in touch.

“Don’t forget the telephone, it’s not all social media anymore. You can do Facetime or Skype and other kinds of messaging if your senior has that capability,” he says.

VanGorder also says reading books together over the phone, doing crosswords or puzzles can be helpful methods too.

“You can do things over the phone with the seniors who are isolated. You can read them letters, you can have tea together even though you’re both having your own cup of tea in a separate place,” he adds.

Because for seniors who don’t get outside communication, their fear and anxiety around isolation might increase.

“They’re of course concerned about their economics, they’re concerned about how they’re going to get their groceries and other necessities,” VanGorder explains.

VanGorder says some seniors who aren’t in long-term care are worried to leave the house during the pandemic. He recommends running errands for them if you’re able to.

“Many of the drug stores are starting to arrange for delivery beyond what they would normally do,” he says. “But if you have a senior who lives down the street from you, check with them and see if perhaps you could go and pick something up for them.”

The CARP spokesperson also says not to tie up the 811 line unless you really need it, because for some seniors who aren’t online, it’s their only way of getting information.

“If you don’t need 811 for a real emergency yourself, try another way so that those, especially the seniors who are living alone and just don’t have anywhere else to turn are able to get to that line,” he adds.

And above all, even if the senior in your life isn’t in long-term care, VanGorder says not to visit them if you suspect you might be sick.

“Even if you just have a sniffle or think you have a cold, don’t try to go and visit your senior loved ones who have compromised health issues,” he says. “Think twice before you make contact with people who might really be at risk.”

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