Coronavirus is a word that most of us are now familiar with. There is a world pandemic of a disease which we know very little about. We are reliant on expert opinions and advice but many of them disagree about the right thing to do and when that should take place.
Currently, there is a suggestion that people over 70, self-isolate for at least four months. Whilst this is good news if it protects those who are most vulnerable, it may create problems regarding the resulting isolation. Even the advice to self-isolate may spark fears of loneliness, depression and anxiety.
Out of touch
Let’s first acknowledge that many people of age 70+ don’t feel ‘old’ and probably have active lives, indeed many of them may be in full-time jobs. However, there are many elderly people who already feel isolated and lonely. How will they feel if they can no longer socialise with others or even pop out to the shops? The alternative, a high risk dying of a virus that has already claimed the lives of so many, doesn’t seem a viable option either.
What can we do?
In this early stage, we can maybe reassure our friends, family and neighbours that we will support them whatever happens. Perhaps those of us who are well will be able to run errands and do shopping, although we will need guidance and protocols to follow to make sure that we don’t increase the risk of spreading infection.
Letter writing and drawings?
Some people have suggested that asking schoolchildren to write letters and draw pictures would be a good idea but this raises a question of cross-infection. Maybe the experts may know of a way to do this safely and responsibly as I’m sure it would be a very welcome gesture.
A friendly call
What we can do though is talk on the phone. For those who are already living a life without much contact, it could be a new and welcomed blessing. Having someone to talk to may simply relieve loneliness, provide the opportunity for concerns to be expressed and knowing there are people in the community who truly care could make all the difference in the world.
It is not clear if once a person has had the virus if they become immune and unable to infect others. If this is the case, then these people may be able to offer face to face contact and help to support people in other ways, and not just the elderly. There are many others who may have to be in isolation, those with diabetes, heart problems, cancer treatment, asthma for instance.
Getting to know you
Many of us already live isolated lives in the respect that we really know who our neighbours are. We go to work and lead independent lives. Now we have an opportunity to make sure we know who is our community and introduce ourselves as people willing to be supportive.
Not just a health issue
There will no doubt be casualties of this outbreak, even those who may not suffer much from illness may have to manage financial difficulties, lose their jobs temporarily or even permanently and may already be struggling to make ends meet.
We all matter
I’m grateful for Reg Connolly for teaching me that ‘not one of us is as smart as all of us’. So, what can we do to make ease things in a difficult situation? What can we achieve by working together and supporting each other? Rather than just look after ourselves and our immediate families, can we take the time to consider the fact that everyone matters?
Mutual support systems
My contribution to ideas in this post is for us all to get to know who lives in our street, our village, town and the local area. Is it possible to set up a directory of who needs help and who is offering help? Could we create a rota of people who will be willing to make phone calls or facilitate online chats? Will you start to reach out to people to let them know who you are, where you live and let them know they can rely on you if they need support. It may be the case that in the near future you might need support too.
Who knows, there may be a good Samaritan who can even spare a toilet roll or two!
Let’s get creative!
It’s easy to feel helpless and anxious in the current situation but please share your ideas of what can do to make things a little more bearable. We have an opportunity to show each other compassion, kindness and support regardless of what is happening in the world.