In their quiet yet urban home, Flora and Edward sit in their den while reading the paper and overlooking the street of their residential neighbourhood.

The phone rings and Flora has a good jaw-wag with her granddaughter on the other end. They talk about what the other has been up to, if there are any good books to read, and reminisce on the good times.

The knock on the side door opens to their daughter Margaret, dropping off a prepped meal for Flora and Edward’s dinner that night.  Margaretasks how they’re doing and if they need anything, ready to come around the next day to ask the same questions.

On the weekends, Flora and Edward are visited by the families of the children, their grandchildren, and their great-grandchildren. Flora puts out her signature chocolate chip cookies while Edward retells his detective stories. It’s always a beautiful afternoon when visiting with Flora and Edward.

My grandparents are in their mid-nineties, live in their own home, and support themselves with help from family. Despite the necessary precautions influenced by COVID-19, my grandparents are optimistic and have adapted well to the unprecedented situation.

Yet, many seniors are in different environments, support, and care situations. While we are trying to keep our loved ones safe from the novelty virus, it is important to address and act towards the feelings of isolation.

Ways to support seniors in the pandemic

  • Chat over the phone. Set up a computer ad webcam to video chat. Have an outdoor visit
  • Offer to deliver their groceries or drive them to appointments
  • Learn more about senior needs and care
  • Give back to the senior community by volunteering or donating to senior-friendly causes

As age increases the probability of needing critical care to recover from COVID-19, seniors have more reason to take extra precautions by staying home when possible and limiting in-person interaction or maintaining a six-foot distance. 

While all age groups have been affected by COVID-19, seniors are commonly situated with mobility and agility issues that prevent them from moving around like they did when they were younger. Common health and wellbeing problems for seniors are dementia, stroke, loneliness, falls, and arthritis to name a few.

These common senior problems coupled with the COVID-19 situation result in seniors and their caregivers maintaining a comfortable and familiar environment to prevent accidents and sickness. Many families and caregivers believe it is in their elders’ best interests to limit interaction with their families and community, but this leads to missing out on key senior experiences.

My grandparents are unable to spend much time with their new great-grandchildren which makes them feel like they don’t know them as well. In turn, the youngsters are missing out on baking cookies with grandma and playing cards with grandpa. These are important experiences when you’re a grandparent and many feel they are missing out on watching their family grow up.

 Seniors also miss out on their weekly events and outings which hinders their ability to interact with the community. As my family has taken up grocery shopping for my grandparents, my grandparents no longer run into their old friends when they’re out to buy a loaf of bread.  

Despite these downsides, my grandparents feel very fortunate in their situation, yet they know other seniors are struggling.

As June marks Seniors Month in Ontario, we must consider and discuss the senior experience in the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s theme is staying safe, active, and connected. I encourage my readers to reach out to a senior they know and offer a chat or support. If you are already supporting seniors, thank you and I hope you pass this message along to others.

To learn more about Senior’s Month in Ontario, visit their webpage.

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