Many of us are breathing a sigh of relief now that the coronavirus restrictions are easing and we can start returning to normality. If you’re over 70 or in an at-risk group, this means that you can get out and about at long last.
Here, guest author Imogen Clarke looks at ways you can safely regain your independence post lockdown.
If you’re over 70 or in a high-risk group, then the last few months have likely been especially difficult. You’ve had to cancel visits from the family, stop enjoying your usual activities and even cancel your holidays because of the government’s coronavirus restrictions.
Luckily, the situation in the UK has started to gradually improve, so we are finally able to get out there and start slowly getting our lives back to normal. Having said that, the risk hasn’t disappeared completely and you remain especially vulnerable to the virus.
That’s why it’s so important to take careful steps to regain your independence whilst protecting yourself as best you can. Here are some tips that can help you do just that.
Get the help you need
Despite how it might seem, asking for help when you’re finding everyday tasks more challenging can actually help you to stay independent and remain living in your own home for as long as possible. This is especially important at times like these when everyday tasks like going to the shops or popping to the bank can pose an increased risk to your health thanks to the virus.
Why not ask your friends or family members to pick up some extra groceries from the shop for you? Perhaps you could ask a gardener to pop round to cut the grass? Or maybe it would be a good idea to hire a cleaner to help with those homecare tasks.
Another great option is to hire a professional carer from a homecare provider, who can come to your home and give you the support you need to stay independent.
Whichever option you choose, you should ensure that everyone entering your home sticks to the current hygiene recommendations. This includes wearing masks, washing hands with soap regularly, using sanitizer gel and practicing social distancing whenever possible.
Stay in touch with those you care about
Having regular conversations with those you care about can prevent you from feeling too isolated and raise your spirits, so it’s important that you continue to stay in touch even though the worst appears to be over.
During the lockdown, we could only stay in touch with our friends and loved ones over the phone or by using technology such as Skype, WhatsApp, Zoom and Facetime.
However, now the restrictions have relaxed, we can finally meet up face to face for a chat.
If you choose to meet up face to face, there are certain safety precautions you should abide by to help reduce your chances of catching the virus.
This includes staying at least two metres apart (or one metre while wearing a mask), washing your hands frequently and limiting your meetings to just one other household.
Remember, if you’re over 70 and/or in a high risk group, you are more likely to develop more severe symptoms of the virus, so it’s perhaps better to be extra careful.
Enjoy some fresh air
Going outside and getting some fresh air is a great way to feel less isolated, relieve stress and give you a dose of bone-building vitamin D. That’s why you should aim to get outside as often as you can, even if it’s just to take a short stroll or sit outside.
According to dementia awareness charity, the DSDC, time outside can also stimulate your brain and help relieve some of the symptoms of dementia, “The health of people with dementia who spent as little as 10 to 15 minutes of activity a day outside improved significantly.”
The great news is that you can also meet up to five people from different households in an outdoor space like a park or private garden now the coronavirus restrictions have relaxed.
Again, you should maintain social distancing, wash your hands often and wear a face covering if possible.
Learn how to use technology
No matter your age, you can still learn how to use technology to help you stay independent. It’s not as daunting as it seems and it can help you do essential tasks like ordering a delivery of groceries, looking after your finances and staying in touch with your friends.
As anyone who has ever seen their grandchild play with a phone will tell you, using technology doesn’t take talent. It just takes practice. Just be patient with yourself, take it slow and you’ll soon have the basics mastered.
Whilst the risk of coronavirus hasn’t completely gone, you can start to take small steps back towards normality. So, why not use this time to give your independence an extra boost by meeting up with friends, learning how to use technology, getting plenty of fresh air and asking for the help that you need? All these things will give you a great sense of empowerment and help you stay living in your own home for longer.
Special thanks to Helping Hands for their knowledge and input into this article.