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Practical Ways to Help Older People

How we can all help

1. Keep in touch

It is really important to keep in touch with friends and family to try and keep our spirits high and to look after each other. Here are some ways that you can keep in touch:

Meet up in person 

Everyone is able to meet outdoors with up to six people from six different households. The Scottish Government does recommend that you try to keep this to a minimum, as any contact with someone from outside of your household is a risk.

Other ways to keep in touch

Phone your older relatives and friends and ask if they need any essential food items or medicines and let them know if they do, you can help out. And while you’re on the phone, why don’t you have a chat?

You could set up a rota with other family and friends to make sure someone is regularly giving them a ring to check in.

This might also be a useful time to introduce older relatives and friends to technology that might prove helpful during this period, such as Skype or FaceTime. 

Don’t forget snail mail! Everyone loves getting letters and postcards, or just a note through the door. Now might be the perfect time to dust off your stationery set.

Another fun way to stay connected is to agree to watch the same TV programme and call for a chat about it afterwards.

If your older relative or friend lives on their own they now have the option to form an 'extended household' with one other household. This means that they can act as though they are a member of this household and so can spend time with them indoors and even stay the night. You can only form an extended household with one other household, and so everyone involved should carefully consider it first.

2. Lend a hand

If you’re feeling well, why not offer to pick up shopping for an older neighbour or relative who should no longer leave their home. If you are helping an older person, make sure you stay at a safe distance from them (2 metres) and make sure you leave the shopping on their front doorstep, knock on their door and step back while you ensure they safely receive it.

You could help an older person who lives further away from you and isn’t familiar with technology by doing an online shop for them, or help them set up an online delivery themselves. 

Find out if you can pick up any repeat prescriptions for an older person who isn’t able to get to the pharmacy themselves.

You may also know an older person who would greatly appreciate some help with their pet during this time.

3. Show you care

Why not make homemade cards (a great project to do with the kids), send a postcard, even post small gifts to keep people’s spirits up or just write a good old-fashioned letter to an older friend or relative?

Why not get creative with it? Share any pictures or videos of what you’re up to by tagging our Instagram or Twitter accounts.

Books, magazines, and puzzles are all great ways to pass the time indoors.

It’s also important to encourage people to stay active while they stay at home – whether that’s moving around the house, doing some gardening, or going for a walk if it is safe for them to leave the house. Age Scotland’s Body Boosting Bingo is a fun game that will help raise your heart rate, and importantly your mood.

4. Useful numbers and contacts

It can be helpful to know who you can call, especially if you think someone’s feeling isolated.

For practical information and advice, call Age Scotland’s Helpline 0800 12 44 222 (Monday to Friday 9am - 5pm)

If an older person you know does not have symptoms, but you or they are looking for general advice on Coronavirus, the dedicated NHS Scotland information line is 0800 028 2816.

For useful information on local services you can call your local council. You can follow this link to look up your local council

The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) have collated a list of resources from charities in Scotland that they will be updating regularly. You can find useful resources on their website.

5. Donate now

Demand for our vital services has increased rapidly. Help us keep our information and advice and independent living services running by donating today.

Help us support more older people

Demand for our vital services is increasing rapidly. Please help us be there for older people who desperately need us during this crisis.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does physical distancing and social distancing mean?

This means reducing your contact with people you do not live with and keeping 2 metres away from others.

See our definitions page for more information

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What does self-isolation mean?

If you or someone in your household has symptoms of the virus – a dry cough and/or a high temperature – then the Government has instructed you to ‘self-isolate’ at home. You should book a test either by calling the National Testing Centre on 0300 303 2713 or booking online on NHS Inform's website. Don't delay in doing this, book a test as soon as you/someone in your household start to feel symtoms. 

While you wait for the results of the test you should self-isolate. This means avoiding all social contact, remaining in your home and only allowing essential visitors, such as NHS or care workers. 

Current advice is to self-isolate at home for 10 days if you have symptoms.

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What does shielding mean?

Shielding was introduced to protect extremely vulnerable people from coming into contact with coronavirus, by minimising all interaction between them and others.

See our definitions page for more information

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I’m a carer for someone else. What should I do?

If you have caring responsibilities, Carers UK suggests looking at putting a contingency plan in place, and if you can, make cover arrangements with trusted neighbours, friends or family members. Take a look at their information on coronavirus. 

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I don’t know any older people but I would like to help those in my local area, how can I do this?

The British Red Cross are seeking community reserve volunteers to support public services including the NHS and local authorities. Sign up by clicking here

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The Age Scotland Helpline

Call our helpline on 0800 12 44 222 for free to speak to an adviser. Open Monday to Friday 9am - 5pm.

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