With the country in lockdown, there are concerns that many elderly people will be particularly susceptible to accelerated cognitive decline if they are cut off from their social networks.
New Zealanders across the country are in lockdown, after the national alert level was raised to 4 just over a week ago.
But as difficult as it may seem being stuck inside with little else to do but clean the house and watch Netflix, younger Kiwis are being urged to spare a thought for their grandparents or ageing parents.
Having their connection cut with the outside world is not just a boredom-inducing change of lifestyle but can also lead to the quicker onset of cognitive decline that comes with ageing, says Liana Machado, an associate professor at Otago University who specialises in neuropsychology and cognitive psychology.
That's because for many people who don't spend hours every day on the internet, their main source of mental stimulation is the outside world.
"Having cognitively complex conversations, learning new tasks... these are things that usually happen when you go out and about, not necessarily in your home sitting alone," Machado told Newshub.
Without being able to go outside - something that can be difficult for many vulnerable elderly people if friends and family are not there to help - many exercises necessary for keeping older brains sharp and alert don't take place.
The result is that things like memory loss and an increased difficulty to learn new things can come on more quickly.
"There might be some accelerated ageing if people aren't able to get the normal kind of input that helps their brain stay as resilient to decline as it can," Machado said.
"There is concern that this lack of input - the lack of engagement and physical activity, cognitive activity, and social activity - is just going to make their cognitive decline, which is something that happens naturally with ageing, compound the issues and can lead to much more dramatic decline."
Machado says evidence shows that lack of exercise and excessive sitting not only has a negative effect on physical and overall health, but also on the brain's health.
She recommends older people make a real effort to keep moving during the lockdown, even if they can't leave the house.
"If unable to go outside and engage in physical activity, one can still benefit from reducing sitting time while at home - perhaps a bit of stretching and walking around the house could suit," she said.
"A young person can sit on the couch for a month and then probably go for a run and they'd be ok, but if you're in your 70s and you reduce your physical exercise dramatically, it might be that you aren't able to get back into it again easily in a month's time or a couple of months' times."
For those able to exercise outdoors Machado stressed only moving in a way that was comfortable and safe and making sure to stay two metres apart from other people - especially given that older people are more vulnerable to COVID-19 infection.
Those who had grandparents or elderly parents living in a different 'bubble' to them were urged to make an effort to keep up contact and try to provide as much mental stimulation as possible.
"Their loved ones can try to help them to engage in things that are a bit cognitively challenging," says Machado.
"That could just be through a conversation, it might be through learning something new... like social media [or] connecting with their grandchildren through the internet."
Last week, Age Concern's chief executive Stephanie Clare told The AM Show that the lockdown can be a great opportunity to reconnect with older relatives.
Although visiting the elderly at their home or rest home isn't allowed, communication such as phone calls and letters are a great way to pass the time.
"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," Clare said.
She suggested asking elderly relatives to share skills and family knowledge such as recipes with younger family members.