How young people can help the vulnerable during the coronavirus pandemic

Be considerate of the people who may be struggling.
Be considerate of the people who may be struggling. Photo credit: Getty

An advocacy group for the elderly is urging younger people to "make the effort" and help the older generation, saying it could save a life.

Multiple photos shared to social media show elderly people appearing overwhelmed in front of empty shelves after COVID-19 panic caused people to hoard supplies. 

The heartbreaking images have advocacy group Grey Power urging younger people to think about what they're doing.

"Many of the elderly do not have their own transport and rely on others to transport them or shop on their behalf," said Grey Power president Mac Welch.

"These services are only available at set or limited times and when they are faced with empty shelves it means having to go without," he told Newshub. 

He says younger people need to think about their elderly neighbours when heading to the shops.

"You may have never interacted with that person before but please make the effort knock on the door and at least offer," he said.

The World Health Organisation recommends keeping at least two metres of distance between yourself and anyone you interact with to avoid spreading the virus - so make sure you step back from the doorstep. 

"Keep in mind you may well meet people that are reluctant to open the door - elderly people living on their own are often nervous or even frightened - often with good reason," said Welch.

"Persevere you might make a new friend and you might even save a life. Please make the effort."

Some supermarkets have seen the effect the mass-buying has had on elderly people and have stepped in to help.

In Taupo Pak'nSave has imposed limits on chicken, rice, oil, flour and toilet paper, among other things.

Another Pak'nSave branch has reportedly introduced a special aisle for the elderly to help them avoid the spread of germs and panic-buying of other customers.