In these unprecedented times there is a lot of fear and anxiety, and this seems to be heightened amongst the elderly who are amongst the most vulnerable. So what can we do to help and support during the coronavirus crisis? Of course, offering material support is essential to ensure the vulnerable have the food and medicine they need. As is spending time talking and listening. It might also be useful to teach people how to video call if they’re not already familiar.

But to me, the most valuable thing we can offer the elderly the moment is a calm and reassuring presence, whether that’s in person or at the end of a phone. The TV at the moment is 24/7 scary news coverage and almost all the elderly and vulnerable are watching a lot of it. So not surprisingly there is a heightened sense of fear and anxiety. In general, I’m not someone who worries too much, but when I read the stories about the latest death toll, the uncontrollable spread of the virus etc I notice tension and anxiety rise in myself. But staying balanced during difficult times is not only beneficial to us, but when we are around other people, especially if we are living with them, our state of mind can really affect theirs.

Not only can we offer a calm and reassuring presence, but a light touch and a bit of humour go a long way in not feeling too heavy and weighed down. I remember hearing stories of people who worked with Tibetan refugees. They had lost everything after they fled from their homeland having witnessed the most unimaginable violence and brutality imposed on their loved ones. The people I met who worked with the refugees would always comment on how light and joyful they were given all the suffering they had experienced. So maintaining a positive and joyful presence also goes a long way.

All very easy to say I know, and harder in practice, but I think everyone would agree this is something positive to aim towards.

So wherever possible, I’m sure it would be beneficial to have the TV on less, some relaxing music on more, and a bit of laughter where we can.