Being a pen pal may sound a simple task, but…
At the time of writing, the over-70s are not yet on lockdown in the UK due to the Coronavirus pandemic, but it has been suggested that this will be happening shortly.
By the time you are reading this, the chances are the lockdown will have occurred as things seem to be moving quickly now.
Despite this, many members of our older population are already limiting their movements out of fear, in the knowledge that those who are older and those with pre-existing medical conditions are most at risk from the effects of the virus.
Age UK estimates that there are around two million over-75s in England who live alone. In fact, half of all of those aged 75 and over in the UK live by themselves.
Alongside this, more than a million people in this country frequently go more than a month without having any contact with others.
In a time when we are being told to practise social distancing and with lockdown looming, we’re at risk of our older population not only being socially cut off but also going without basic essentials.
So, what can you do to help?
Reach out to a neighbour
It goes without saying that, as long as we are well, the UK population will be doing its best to look after its elderly and unwell relatives – albeit from a distance.
However, what about the older people who have nobody? How will they survive when they aren’t allowed to leave the house, but they’ve run out of food or medicine or toilet roll?
This is where we can all take that extra step and reach out to a neighbour or someone in our community.
Write a letter
As things are, it is unwise to simply knock on someone’s door and ask them if they want any help with shopping, etc. After all, one of you may already be ill, even if you’re not showing symptoms yet.
So, put pen to paper instead and let them know you are here if they need you. In an ideal world, nobody would ever feel lonely, but now, in particular, people need to feel they have support.
What to write in a letter
Here are a few pointers of what to write in your message:
- Introduce yourself
- Explain that you’d be happy to go shopping for them, if required
- Offer your contact details
- Wish them well
- Sign off
Here is an example letter:
Hello there! My name is Lucy and I live at number 62. As we are living in uncertain times right now I wanted to reach out and let you know that I am available to help you if you need anything collecting from the shops.
My contact details are:
Lucy Smith, 07777 777777
Look after yourself.
Of course, make sure you have cleaned your hands thoroughly before writing the letter and don’t lick the envelope if you’re using one.
During this unprecedented time, as well as reaching out to those older people in your community, keep in regular touch with your elderly relatives too – call or video call them if you can’t visit them.
Do you have any other recommendations for our older community during this viral outbreak? If so, please let us know in the comments below.