Wed, Apr 1, 2020

Health advice for older adults

EFPA position statement on COVID-19 related health advice for older adults

EFPA would like to share some basic recommendations on the psychological concerns related to older persons in the situation of Coronavirus spread.

Older persons are considered at higher risk from the effects of Coronavirus. Older persons are also more likely to have other health conditions, and are more likely to be socially isolated.

This time of uncertainty over Coronavirus is worrying and stressful for many people, and especially so for older people, and particularly those who are isolated.

In order to reduce the spread of the virus and to protect vulnerable persons, it is strongly advised to reduce physical contact, not to visit older persons, not to go to care homes and nursing homes. 

Preventing loneliness and isolation of older persons

While avoiding physical contact and proximity is, of course, essential to protect persons at risk, it could also increase loneliness and isolation.

We know that lack of social contact, loneliness and social isolation are key problems of later life, linked to poor mental health, increased disability and earlier death. 

We therefore strongly recommend that alongside measures to limit physical contact, we need a campaign to increase intergenerational solidarity and communication with older people in general, and especially those who are more isolated. Appropriate ways of communicating while respecting physical distancing would be telephone, social media and/or video calling. 

Promoting help and support

Further, it might be essential for persons at risk to get help with making provisions for their daily life. For example, we would recommend checking that older persons have what they need, arranging for deliveries of essentials as well as other small gestures of inclusion and affection.

The best help is prompt and regular, so that older persons (or any people in need) do not have to suffer from extra anxiety and worries stemming from being left helpless.

Make sure to provide information (a note or a leaflet) on a local number of emergency services, a voluntary support service or some other relevant contact to call, and encourage them to proactively interact or seek help and support if needed.

Get in touch with older persons

We recommend people to get in touch regularly with their older relatives, friends and neighbours through appropriate media, so please:

  • Contact older people!
  • Increase communication with older persons!
  • Keep in touch with grandparents!
This information has been prepared by EFPA’s Standing Committee for Geropsychology. For further advice please consult http://efpa.eu/covid-19