Restrictions placed on residents during the soft and hard curfews were unprecedented in the Cayman Islands. We are fortunate that we have never before had to shelter in place in solitude to wait out a war. Now, while restrictions are easing and there is more social interaction permitted than before our elders are still living in isolation due to their increased vulnerability and susceptibility and this can take a hard toll emotionally and mentally.
Stay Home Cayman
People at higher risk of becoming severely ill from COVID-19 must take further preventative measures to avoid contracting the virus. If you are vulnerable, it is strongly advised that you stay at home when possible and keep outside visits to a minimum (e.g. once a day).
Staying home is hard. For many people in our community it's our friends and family that keep us going. Not seeing them takes its toll. When they refuse to come see you and then say it's for your protection, it can be harder. It can feel lonely. It can make you feel helpless.
Keeping Mentally Active
Playing games by yourself can help to pass the time and keep your mind active. Word games, number games, card games and other solitary activities are great to keep your mind fit as a fiddle. If you have access to a tablet or computer you can play collaborative or competitive games with your friends, family or even people you don't know.
Reading books is another great way to keep your mind active and allow you to escape into someone else's story for a few hours. Talk to your friends and family to arrange a book exchange to get new books to read and to pass along the ones you've already read.
Watching movies, taking tours of museums and even taking virtual roller coaster rides are all possible thanks to the internet. Check out YouTube and you can find pretty much anything you'd be interested in to keep you entertained. Here are a few suggestions:
- Music – almost any song you can think of is on YouTube
- Broadway and off-Broadway shows
- Museum Tours
- Art Gallery Tours
- Travel Vlogs through national parks and cities around the world
Keeping Physically Active
Sitting at home all day is not only boring, it's unhealthy. Do what you can to keep active and keep fit. Going for a walk in the early morning or evening when it's not too hot, putting on some music and cutting the rug can life your spirits while you break a sweat or doing some light yoga or stretching can help to keep you nimble.
Exercise releases endorphins which make you feel happy. A light bit of exercise will almost always lift your spirits.
Visits From Essential Carers
Essential carers or visitors who support you with your everyday needs can continue to visit unless they have COVID-19 symptoms. Essential carers coming to your home should follow advice on good hygiene.
Ask for Support
Older people are incredibly vulnerable right now and many are struggling with the mental toll of increased isolation. Asking for support if you're feeling depressed due to isolation is very important. Checking in regularly with your friends and family, keeping active and maintaining a routine can help to improve your mental and physical health. Calling your family and neighbours regularly can help both of you feel more connected and less alone.
Help With Food And Medicines
Ask family, friends and neighbours to assist you and use online services where available. Some pharmacies and shops offer home delivery and support.
As An Older Person Who Can I Reach Out To For Help?
To support and safeguard seniors during the COVID-19 outbreak, persons can call the Older Persons Helpline at 1-800-534-2222.
The toll-free line, staffed by Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS) social workers, is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.
The aim of the helpline is to:
- report concerns
- obtain support
- link callers to resources and volunteers
- provide advice on COVID-19
- encourage contact with older persons
For psychological support, call the Mental Health Helpline at 1-800-534-6463 (MIND) (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm).
Other Support & Resources
- Contact the Needs Assessment Unit on nau.gov.ky
- The Family Resource Centre on dcfs.gov.ky/frc
- Meals on Wheels Cayman at Mealsonwheels.ky
- Or call the Older Persons Helpline at 1-800-534-2222 today.
How Are Elderly Persons Living Alone Being Advised?
Community District Officers and representatives from agencies including the Department of Children & Family Services, Cayman Islands Red Cross and Economics & Statistics Office will assist with distribution of materials and speaking with elderly persons.
I Just Called To Say "Hello"
Some of the people who are struggling the most might be the people you least expect. If you haven't heard from a friend, family member or colleague in some time, send them a text or give them a call just to check in on how they're doing. Your simple gesture can go a long way.
Be mindful of friends, families, or loved ones who who are also coping with grief or bereavement during this time. Those experiencing bereavement can get in touch with their local pastor or the Cayman Counselling Centre at 1 (345)-949-8789.