Considering that this is our first full winter without lockdowns here in Australia, many families across the country have rightly been concerned about reducing their risks of catching COVID-19. Families with immunocompromised and elderly members in particular, have been taking steps to use COVIDSafe practices wherever possible, as a means of ensuring that everyone maintains the right to feel comfortable this winter.
But how exactly can Aussie seniors go about balancing staying COVIDSafe and maintaining connections to their loved ones and wider community? There are more ways to stay COVIDSafe than simply repeating the winters of 2020 and 2021 once more this year.
Here are just a few methods families and communities can use to keep all their beloved seniors COVIDSafe this winter season.
Enjoy ‘seniors only’ community events
If your elderly loved ones reside within retirement villages in Australia, chances are they already have an expansive winter events calendar that they can use to keep themselves entertained this season. Retirement communities may even host a selection of ‘seniors only’ community events just to ensure that their senior residents can enjoy socializing in winter without having to worry about being exposed to COVID-19 or other pesky cold weather viruses.
Family members who are seeking to attend social events that are held by retirement villages should keep in mind which events are open to the public versus those that are purely for village residents. Alongside this, if you or your loved ones are planning on attending a senior-friendly event at a retirement village, we highly recommend getting PCR or RAT tests done a few days prior to the event, just to ensure that you aren’t exposing your elderly loved ones or any other retirement village residents to COVID-19.
Take advantage of technology
Unfortunately, even with COVIDSafe measures, case numbers have been on the rise across Australia over this winter season, meaning that any individuals who may find themselves commuting for work, traveling abroad, or living in densely populated areas, could be testing positive for COVID- 19 in the very near future. With this in mind, it’s likely that there will be a period of time where either you or your loved ones will have to go into isolation.
Of course, if there are ever periods of time where families can’t visit their elderly loved ones, then you should feel encouraged to figuratively dust off all the technology you used to communicate with one another during these last few years of lockdowns.
Maintaining digital channels of communication can be a fantastic way of staying connected through difficult periods, and chances are high that your elderly loved ones will absolutely appreciate you making time for them virtually in lieu of not being able to see them in person.
There are also a variety of ways that you can stay connected using technology. You don’t necessarily need to FaceTime in order to maintain a connection. Even something as simple as playing games online can help you and your family feel a sense of togetherness on the chilliest winter nights.
On top of this, maintaining a good grasp of technology can only be a benefit to your elderly loved ones, as consistent engagement with digital technologies may also help Aussie seniors maintain a level of independence, both when it comes to socializing and staying connected with family and friends, as well as managing day-to-day responsibilities like shopping, banking, and using public transportation.
Head off on a family getaway (as fully vaccinated travellers!)
If you and your senior loved ones do find yourselves going a bit stir-crazy staying in city centers during winter, then a fantastic way of ensuring that you get plenty of time with one another without having to worry about the ever-constant threat that is COVID-19, is simply by planning out a family vacation, be it interstate or just a few hours from home.
We would advise against taking your elderly relative on an international trip, however, as case numbers linked to international travel are still relatively high. There’s also every likelihood that an infection acquired through travel may prove harder to recover from than a locally acquired case, as you may have been exposed to a strain or variant that you aren’t thoroughly vaccinated against.
Of course, the best method of ensuring that you stay COVIDSafe when traveling interstate or even abroad, is simply by staying up to date with your COVID-19 vaccinations and booster shots. The booster shots in particular are very important for helping you and your loved ones stay well-protected from emerging or developing COVID-19 variants. It’s also worth getting your annual flu shot at the same time, as it is perfectly safe to get your flu shot out of the way alongside your next COVID-19 vaccination.
Take COVIDSafe measures when heading out
Finally, it’s well worth noting that although vaccinations may keep you from having a deal with more of the adverse symptoms and after-effects of COVID-19, it won’t stop you from becoming infected with the coronavirus. And although the severity of COVID-19 can differ from person to person, this is by no means an argument for taking your chances with the virus, especially if you’re a senior citizen or are planning to spend plenty of time this winter with elderly loved ones.
For this reason, it’s recommended that seniors and their loved ones take COVIDSafe measures whenever they leave their homes or their retirement village. This means donning a fitted face mask when travelling, using hand sanitiser before and after handling items in public spaces, and getting tested regularly to reduce the risks of exposing your loved ones to the coronavirus.
Staying COVIDSafe is naturally of the utmost importance for retirement village providers, which is precisely why your elderly loved one may likely be safest within their retirement communities. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t be encouraged to have fun days out with your elderly loved ones, but that the freedom to enjoy these days out comes with the added responsibility of keeping one another safe.
You can do your part to keep both your loved ones as well as your wider community safe by following all the COVIDSafe tips for staying connected we’ve explored above.