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How COVID-19 is affecting the elderly and what can you do about it

By: Yasmin Güzelcan

Today we have Yasmin Güzelcan, Head of Social Responsibility at the CEMS Club Rotterdam, sharing her experience on elderly care during the current times. Thank you Yasmin for sharing tips on how to get involved, we hope many of you will find it inspiring!

Yasmin, her grandmother and her mother

My grandma just turned 84 and this is the first time I cannot be with her to celebrate her birthday. I have sent her favourite flowers to her, but it feels sad to not give them in person. My grandma practically raised me, because my parents had to work a lot. She is the best cook I know, an amazing bedtime storyteller and a really funny woman. I have not been able to see my grandparents for a few weeks right now and I really miss them, but I have been checking up on them through phone every other day and it does them really good to hear something from their (grand)children. Luckily my whole family lives in the same city and they have been supporting my grandparents by doing their groceries and getting medicine for them.

"Elderly people are not only physically affected by the virus, but also mentally due to loneliness"

As you all know by now, elderly people are more at risk from COVID-19 and most people that have passed away were older than 70. However, elderly people are not only physically affected by the virus, but also mentally due to loneliness. There are lots of ways you can help elderly people in your community who feel lonely and are socially isolated.

How can I get involved and provide support to the elderly around me?

Volunteering for an organization

Local organizations have been putting their efforts to help elderly people during social isolation, for example by helping them with groceries or by bringing them flowers. It takes just a few seconds to research what and how organizations are currently helping elderly people in your neighbourhood or city. Keep an eye on social media or websites of these organizations to see how you can help!

For those of you who are still in Rotterdam:

Send a postcard (NL Cares): NL Cares is an organization that helps elderly to cope with loneliness. Normally volunteers would take elderly to a park and play games with them. However, due to COVID this is not possible. To still support elderly people, they came up with the initiative to send postcards to the elderly care homes. Check out their website to see how you can send a postcard.

For the Dutchies:

Rotterdammers Voor Elkaar: help elderly people in Rotterdam with their groceries or accompany them with a walk in the park.

NL Voor Elkaar: help elderly throughout the Netherlands.

Start a conversation

Step out of your comfort zone and start a conversation with an older person if you pass by them on the street or sit close to them on a bench in the park (with at least 1.5 meters distance of course). The past week I have enjoyed the surprisingly sunny Dutch weather by having a drink on my chair in front of my house and I noticed that there are still a lot of elderly walking outside. Most of them were also likely to start a conversation. Having a small talk can mean a lot to them!

Provide support, but try not to hold hands!

Offer practical help

Whether it is your neighbor, your grandparents or a friend of your grandparents, there are several ways to offer practical help. You can think of things like helping with their groceries, getting medicine, dog-walking, cleaning their windows or sharing a meal.

These are just a few things you can do to help elderly people during social isolation. Check out the web or use your creativity to come up with more ways to help them and share them with us!

Reminder: Keep your distance and wash your hands regularly!


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