Coronavirus: Lockdown great time to reconnect with the elderly

Lockdown may seem like four weeks of Netflix, boredom and endless snacking for some, but the time at home also provides a great opportunity to reconnect with family, friends and the elderly.

"This is a bubble of joy - let's stop thinking of this bubble as terrifying," Age Concern chief executive Stephanie Clare told The AM Show on Thursday.

New Zealand's four-week lockdown period is a great time for young people to connect with their elderly relatives, Clare says. It's important to remember that under level four protocol, it's mandatory that New Zealanders only have physical contact with those they live with. This means socialising with friends and family outside the home is prohibited.

Visiting the elderly, whether it be at their property or a rest home, is a definite no-no. The older demographic is more at risk of developing complications once infected with COVID-19, the Government advising over-70s to self-isolate as much as possible. However, phone calls, social media and letters are a great way to bridge the divide. 

"I think we can storytell.  Children are doing something different to what they have ever done before, the older community have stories they want to share," Clare says.

"Let's connect with each other - give them a phone call, say 'tell me a story', 'tell me something I don't know about you'. Something you have never had the time to share before - now is the day."

For families who do have a grandparent or elderly relative self-isolating with them, Clare suggests sharing skills with one another to help pass the time. Certain skills, such as recipes, can also be easily shared via the phone or social media. 

"We can learn patience, how to work together... we can learn some of the skills we never had before," she says. 

"Learning to sew, learning to knit... young people have been asking Google all these years they can ask their grandparents now.

"This is the time to ask those questions."

Young people can also help their grandparents with getting a grasp on technology during lockdown. Clare urges families to help the elderly stay connected via Skype and other channels. 

"The elderly are adaptable and they've adapted for years. Just help them along the way - they need an opportunity to learn, like any of us."