Steps older people can take to stay safe and connected when isolated

Information/image source: Compass – guiding action on elder abuse 

The Covid-19 pandemic may have profound negative impacts on older persons’ enjoyment of their social, economic and health rights. Extreme social isolation may be experienced as an unintended consequence of social distancing measures. 

Compass has a guide for older people to keep their independence, stay safe and connected during and beyond this unprecedented time. Please like and share this information on social media with your friends, family and peers. 

Below are some steps older Australians can take to stay safe and connected.

Make your own decisions 

Everyone – including the elderly – has the right to make their own decisions and choices, including choices about where to live, how to live, their money and health. Others may not agree with the decisions older people may take, but they should be respected and honoured unless personal safety is at risk.

Stay on top of your financial affairs 

It’s important to make sure financial and legal affairs are in order and up-to-date. Although it’s normal for older people to turn to other family members to help manage finances as they age, they should ultimately be the one with the final say and control. It’s always best to use qualified and independent professionals. If you can’t afford professional assistance, keep as many trusted people informed as possible. When people know where they stand, they’re less likely to experience financial abuse. 

Stay in touch with family and friends 

Humans thrive on quality human contact. When it’s absent, isolation can leave people feeling depressed, sad or lonely. Older people may feel unwanted, or a burden, or that others don’t know they exist. The best way to beat this is to keep loved ones close. That could be family, friends or neighbours. 

Increase your online confidence and skills 

In an increasingly online world, many older Australians find it difficult to keep up with technology and can feel isolated as a result. Be Connected is a free Australian Government initiative aimed at increasing the confidence, skills and online safety of older Australians. The website provides interactive learning activities, training courses and ‘how-to’ videos. Learn how to spot scams, shop and bank online and stay connected with family and friends. You will improve your quality of life by connecting with your community and the wider world. 

Get active and be healthy 

Physical activity is important for everyone, no matter how old. Exercising every day, even if it’s a gentle walk or exercise, can help boost energy levels, activate ‘happy hormones’ and extend life. And the happier and healthier we are, the more independent we are likely to remain. 

Stay active within communities 

As people grow older, they may feel more isolated. Attending community events can help to create active social lives, offer purpose and create a connection to the things that are important to us. 

Call out ageism 

Ageism and discrimination against the elderly is prevalent. It may be malicious, learned or unintentional. But this behaviour is unacceptable in any form. It’s important to call it out whenever it is experienced. 

Useful things to think about when moving in with family 

As people get older, they may find that living alone in their own home is no longer working. They may want to be closer to their adult children for company and support. These living arrangements often work out well. But problems can arise if unforeseen circumstances happen, or if there is a dispute or disagreement with other family members. If you are considering living with family, it’s worth asking these questions first. 

Know your rights 

You have the right to live in a safe environment. You have the right to be treated with dignity and respect. You have the right to make your own decisions and choices. You have the right to access the same types of protections as any other adult. If you are unhappy with your living situation or the care you’re receiving, tell someone you trust and ask that person to contact appropriate support.