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Seniors over age 60 are the most vulnerable to the new coronavirus. While there is not a lot of evidence that they contract the virus more easily than any other demographic, their symptoms can be more severe, especially if they have pre-existing conditions. One of the greatest gifts that we can give to our elders is to practice social distancing, good hygiene habits, and to stay home when we are sick. But for those of us who are looking to go the extra mile, here are a few more things that we can do to help:

No plastic, no problem

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Volunteer to make grocery runs

Making a store run on behalf of an elderly relative, loved one, or neighbor is a loving gesture that will definitely be appreciated. In addition to seniors being more vulnerable in the face of the potentially fatal coronavirus, panic-buying and hysteria have made them a target for unhinged shoppers who are operating in a survival mode with little consideration for their fellow human.

Smiling senior couple at a winery store

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Take them shopping  during senior hours

Many grocery chains, including Stop and Shop, Safeway, Whole Foods Market, and Target have designated specific shopping hours for senior citizens.

“We are setting aside this time to help these customers, who national health authorities have identified as among the most vulnerable to COVID-19, feel more comfortable shopping our stores and helping to ensure they are able to get the items they need in a less-crowded environment,” Whole Foods Market said in a statement.

If your loved one has an intense desire to get out of the house, consider taking them to shop for groceries during senior hours and waiting in the car for them while they gather the things that they need.

While waiting, female student looks at smart phone

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Call them

With the government encouraging social distancing, it can get lonely. Since social gatherings are being discouraged, many of our elders who relied upon community senior centers for social interactions are now confined to their homes.

“Just having someone giving you an update every three hours, saying I’ll see you later, gives people a sense that there is a future,” Stephanie Cacioppo, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience at the University of Chicago, told the New York Times. “It makes seniors not feel abandoned.”

Setting aside time to call and check-in with your loved ones can help them to feel less isolated. The calls don’t have to be long or drawn out, but the gesture alone will show that you care.

Young woman drinking coffee and browsing the web

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Schedule deliveries

To limit the number of trips to local businesses, consider asking your loved one to send you a list of items that they need. Once you know what they’re in need of, put together a care package and place it in the mail for them or place an order for them via Amazon.

Woman Consulting with a Pharmacist About Medication stock photo

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Run errands

Offering to run essential errands, such as going to the pharmacy to pick up necessary prescriptions, for your elderly loved ones is another great way to help out during this time. Since the goal is to keep seniors away from people who may be infected with the virus, running errands will significantly decrease their interactions.

Happy Boy Using Digital Tablet While Sitting With Grandmother At Home

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Have the kids video chat with them

Grandparents love interacting with their grandchildren, but multiple news outlets have reported that children, who are not seriously affected by the coronavirus, have been acting as carriers of the disease and infecting their older loved ones. As a result, visits with grandkids are strongly discouraged right now.

“I’ve had this conversation about a hundred times in the last week,” Dr. Elizabeth Eckstrom, chief of geriatrics at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, told the New York Times.

While you may want to limit interactions between your kids and the seniors in your life, Facetime and other video chatting platforms are a good way to keep them connected.

Bank Account Reconciliation

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Offer financial support

If you happen to be in a position to offer financial assistance to an older loved one, considering doing so. Many of our elders are living on a limited income and some are reluctant to ask for help. A gesture as simple as offering money towards groceries or essential toiletries can go a long way.

Older Relatives During A Pandemic

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Gift them with a streaming service subscription

To help pass the time, consider gifting a senior in your life with a streaming service such as Netflix or Hulu and showing them how to use it if they’re unsure. Movies and TV shows can be helpful as they try to pass the time.

Home caregiver assistance

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Connect them with online prayer groups

Since the government is discouraging the gathering of groups of 50 or more, many seniors are being forced to skip church services to protect public safety. Telling them about popular online prayer groups via Facebook and other platforms can help to fill the void while they’re unable to attend services.

Daughter Showing Senior Mother How to Video Chat stock photo

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Show them how to stream church services online

Another way to help your elder relatives stay connected to their faith is to show them how to stream services online. Many churches will go live on Facebook or upload previously recorded services on YouTube.

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