You regard yourself as intelligent, alert, able to access information using all the modern era’s channels, and so aware of what’s going on in the world, You’re reasonably healthy, you have resources to ensure your cupboards are stocked, can stay in touch with others. You can even exercise your dog in your back yard.
Yet, as the Covid-19 lockdown in South Africa approaches, you’re also tentative, fearful, panicked even, about what this all means and how you, your loved ones, the country, the world, might cope.
Now consider your elderly relative or aged neighbour, even an older family friend. They may be living with you or close by, or they might be completely alone and cut off from others. And now they’ve been ordered to take extraordinary steps to isolate even further.
- How do they cope?
- Who reassures them?
- Makes sure they appreciate what’s happening in the world, understand what “social distancing” means and comply with the necessary measures to protect themselves?
- Who reaches out to them in some small way, re-affirming that they are not forgotten?
- Ensures they have fresh food to eat, water, electricity, air time?
- Who checks their state of health?
- Or brings them medicine when their current script runs out and they’re too scared to venture out into streets controlled by the army?
- Who takes care of the carers of our elderly? Provides transport, accommodation or food for them? Pays them reasonable wages? Gives them right of way at roadblocks, in supermarket queues? Honours their work on behalf of those we love?
This must be the most frightening period of uncertainty that many aged people have faced in many years. Some of them may have memories of other times of civil uncertainty, uprisings, war, medical emergencies, which are now triggered afresh. And they may have heard the idiots unconsciously re-stating in the media that “fortunately”, the virus will decimate aged populations, without any thought about how this might be received by the aged themselves, who still have much to give to society and whose collective preference is to live a meaningful life a while longer.
Don’t forget about our elderly as we go into lockdown.