As promised, this is the second blog to give some tips on how to look after your physical & mental health & wellbeing, as well as that of others, who may reside with you during this time of home confinement. The link to the 1st linked blog is here
This blog will cover:
The Specific Challenges of Living on your own
Managing the needs of young children, teenagers and the elderly at home
The crucial role of community support
The Specific Challenges of Living on your own
I have lived on my own for the last 20 months after a 30 year marriage, so it is still a relatively new situation. If you do live on your own & are able, I recommend that you try & adopt the suggestions in the 1st blog on creating a new structure, checking in with yourself daily, the importance of exercise and motivational goal setting.
Talking is cathartic. Any worry or anxiety that we may have, once spoken, is out in the etha so to speak, which effectively right sizes it. So where possible, have at least one actual phone conversation with someone each day, &/ or connect with family &/or friends via Facetime, Zoom etc. This means a lot more than texts or social media messages, and being able to see the person you are talking to makes a huge difference - it really does feel as if the person is actually with you in your home!! If you are unsure how to use such social media avenues etc., ask family or friends to send you clear instructions & then get them to guide you through how to set them up via a phone call.
Asking for help is a strength not a weakness. These are unprecedented times, & if you experience loneliness at any point, there will be many who can empathise with you. So pick up the phone - while you may be physically on your own, you are not alone & can stay connected. Make the decision to do so for your own self- care. When you call someone else, you may well be helping them too!
Managing the needs of young children, teenagers and the elderly living at home or remotely.
If you are living in a home with a family with a multiple range of ages & needs, this will undoubtedly be a challenging time. I cannot reiterate enough, how important the suggestions of self-care in my 1st linked blog are. Here are some specific tips for each group:
1. Young Children
Structure their day around school work, exercise & leisure activities. If you are particularly anxious with regard to the responsibility of home learning, you are not alone.
Contact your children's school for advice
Reach out to family & friends
Set up a WhatsApp support group for parents you know, to share ideas
Access all the helpful articles & tips online. Here are some links, but there are many more you can look into:
Activities - we are fortunate to have Easter around the corner, so making easter hats, decorating eggs, making easter cup cakes & easter cards, plus planning an indoor easter treasure hunt or in your garden if you are fortunate enough to have one are great activities for the young. Please do not be tempted to invite other family or friends for Easter. You can video any of the activities & share with remote family members & friends.
Other popular activities with young children include: cooking, painting, reading, potato prints, hand prints, dancing, creating plays, & as mentioned above, I am sure other parents you know will also have many creative ideas too. Lets reach out & help each other....
This is a very difficult time for teenagers too. Just at the age when they are wanting to have more independence, having to stay 'at home' will feel like a real infringement of their freedom.
This will bring its own challenges for your household but You will not be alone in this
They may not have the maturity to express their feelings & frustrations in a rational way. Instead, it may manifest in anger, answering back, being uncooperative & choosing to isolate themselves in their own rooms.
Again, I would urge you to stay connected with other parents who have children of a similar age. Share ideas - many minds are better than one.
Encourage family meal times where phones for everyone are turned to silent & placed in another room. Use this time as an opportunity to communicate. As parents we need to lead by example. Talk about the situation and what each person is finding particularly challenging. Ask your teenagers what they would ideally like to do with their spare time.
Encourage your teenagers to get involved with family activities. At weekends, you could teach them how to do various DIY tasks.
How to cook a meal from scratch, or something that they have specifically asked to do
Board games can be great fun - Monopoly was a favourite with my teenage children, as was scrabble. If they have never played chess or draughts, you could teach them how to play. If you have not played these games yourself, you could make it a joint project, to learn together!
Whatever the case, it will be important to encourage teenagers to commune with the family & not isolate within their rooms too much. Ideally time on social media should be restricted. As this is unlikely to go down well as a specific instruction, suggesting alternative activities will hopefully motivate them to get away from their screens.
Finally & importantly, if your teenagers were due to take GCSE's, A Levels or degree finals this year, it is crucial that you speak with them on a 'one to one' basis, as to how they feel about not actually being able to take the exams. This will effect each individual very differently.
When I was younger I could never take mock exams seriously & consequently always got realy bad results. However, when it came to the 'real thing', I pulled out all the stops, the adrenaline kicked in, & I did well. To be told that I could not take the actual exams & that my grades would be based on my mocks & course work, would have really upset & stressed me. For some, the effect on their future academic journeys or careers, could be daunting.
3. Elderly &/or vulnerable living within the family home or remotely
While it is often said, that collaboration among different generations can be inspiring, depending on the circumstances, it can also be very challenging, with the variation of needs.
Fuses maybe short, & emotions running high. Communication will be key, as well as where possible, enabling individuals within the household to have a quite space.
Once again there are many useful articles online, but we also need to check the latest official NHS, Government & PHE guidelines daily. Please be wary of social media information, as much of it is inaccurate.
If you have an elderly/vulnerable person living with you & a family member who needs to go out to work as a frontline worker, you will need to ensure that they are isolated from each other. This may be difficult in a small residence, but if you do have any concerns, you can:
Contact NHS 111 online here
While you can still call the 111 phone line, as it is very busy, it may well be difficult/nigh impossible to get through.
There is also a helpful BBC News article on 'Coronavirus elderly advice: How can I look after my older relatives?' here
If you live with someone suffering from Alzheimers and have concerns, call the Alzheimers Uk support line on 0333 150 3456 for specialist advice.
If you have an elderly relative who lives on their own:
Keep in regular contact by phone
Send cards, letters & pictures from your children if you have any, &/or videos if your relative has a phone whereby they can watch them.
If you live locally and are able, you are allowed to get them essential groceries & medicines. Keep to all the government guidelines while out, & advise them when you have placed the items on their doorstep. Do not have any direct physical contact.
If you live many miles away/abroad & know people locally, put them in touch with your elderly relative.
If you have no local contacts, call Age Concern support line on 0800 678 1602 for advice on community support available within your relative's area.
While the majority of citizens are honest, there have been examples of people scamming vulnerable people, by offering to get them groceries & asking for money upfront. You need to advise your elderly relatives to never part with money except on proof of a receipt by a known person.
If you have an elderly/vulnerable person living in a care home:
Keep in regular contact with the care home
If your relative is able to converse, arrange to make regular calls via staff if they do not have their own mobile phone.
Ask if you can send videos etc which can then be shown to your relative by a member of staff.
If possible liaise with staff to work out how you can have Facetime calls for example, with your relative.
The Crucial role of Community Support
In these unprecedented times we need to support each other like never before. Here is what you can do safely:
If you know of any elderly or vulnerable people on your street who live on their own, make contact via a card through the door, & give them your phone number. Tell them which number your house is & you can offer to get essential groceries &/or medication for them.
If they make contact, explain how it can work to keep you both safe. With regard to reimbursement, you will need to make the arrangement with them on proof of a receipt. Ideally, it is preferable if this can be done online, as cash can be contaminated. This is likely to be difficult for many elderly, but you could always arrange this via one of their relatives who may not live locally, with the person's consent.
I am helpng 2 elderly locals. I have passed the receipts onto them, & kept a record, so we can settle up at some point, as it is not large sums of money.
Likewise, if you have local friends in self-isolation you can do the same for them, leaving items on the doorstep & advising them you have done so.
Earlier this week the government asked for people to volunteer to help the NHS. They have had an incredible response. Volunteers can help in the following ways:
Buying groceries, collecting medicines & delivering them to people's homes.
Taking people to hospital/GP appointments.
For those like myself who do not have a car, making regular phone calls to people who are vulnerable or on their own to offer a friendly voice & support. This is particularly important for people who have been asked to self-isolate for 12 weeks. They may not get the Covid-19 virus, but without human contact, could quite realistically die of loneliness, which would be another direct consequence of the virus.
You can register to volunteer here
People who suffer from Anxiety/depression
If you know of people who suffer from either or both of the above. Reach out to them. Call them & be that friendly, calm voice on the phone. If you have real concerns about their welfare call NHS 111 for advice.
Positivism & Gratitude
Last night at 8pm the nation saluted the NHS in a united show of GRATITUDE. I joined in and like many others, felt hugely emotional.
A positive attitude, expressions of gratitude, & helping others in any way we can, is crucial at this time for them, but also important for our own wellbeing. We can be uplifted by being generous.
I hope this has been useful. Stay safe, think of others, ask for help if you need it, pick up the phone.
One last plea - currently many parks are still open, but councils have said that if people do not heed the guidelines about going out for exercise once per day, they will not hesitate to close them. It will be sunny this weekend but PLEASE be responsible. If you flout the rules, we will all suffer if the parks are closed. This happened in the borough of Hackney this week, where many people live in high rise blocks, which is sad indeed.
I am proud to be a British citizen, proud of the country uniting & of the generosity of spirit - lets keep it coming !!!
With Very Best Wishes, as ever,
I am here if you would like to chat.