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COVID-19: Advice for older people

COVID-19: Advice for older people

Posted March 25, 2020

Media Release: NZ Government

What you need to know right now to stay safe and healthy

From Wednesday 25th March 2020 at 11.59pm all New Zealanders must follow the rules for the government’s Alert Level 4. The Prime Minister has said that Alert Level 4 will be in place for 4 weeks but may last longer if COVID-19 is not under control at the end of that period.

Older people often have underlying health issues, including respiratory issues that make them more vulnerable to COVID-19, so it is especially important to follow the rules.

Alert Level 4 means that everyone must remain in their current living arrangements except for those deemed to be ‘essential’ workers. Find out more about the Alert Levels.

You will still be able to stay in your usual home with your family or housemates and get essential things you need such as groceries or prescriptions. Supermarkets and pharmacies will remain open but non-urgent health services might be cancelled to ensure healthcare workers can help where they are most needed.

If you do visit the supermarket, keep two metres apart from other people and follow good hygiene rules including washing your hands and covering your mouth or sneezing into your elbow. We also encourage anyone under seventy living with you to practice a spirit of manaakitanga and run these kinds of errands for you.

If you need a prescription, call your doctor and they will advise you if you should pick it up from the pharmacy or it can be delivered to your doorstep. Now’s the time to reach out to friends, family and neighbours for help if you need it. Cafes, restaurants and bars will all be closed while we remain in Level 4.

Right now, the most important thing you can do is to avoid contracting COVID-19. This means being careful, clean and making a plan. Don’t be scared, be prepared.

Remember:Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds using soap and water. This is especially important after; using the bathroom, coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose, getting home, eating or preparing food. Dry your hands too.

Avoid touching your nose, mouth or eyes unless you have washed your hands.

Stay away from sneezes. Two metres is a safe distance to stay from anybody sneezing. This is about the length of your couch or bed.

Cover your cough - If you need to cough or sneeze, cover your nose and mouth with your bent elbow or a tissue (then throw it in the bin).

If you feel at all unwell, make sure you stay at home until you feel better and try to stay in a separate room from people you live with.

Find the facts – lots of people are talking about COVID-19 right now. It can be confusing when lots of people are saying different things.

Make sure you get your information from official sources like the Ministry of Health and the COVID-19 website. If people tell you new information, ask where they got it from – make sure it’s official! Keep up to date with facts, not rumours.

Manage your mental wellbeing. Reach out to your family and whānau, friends and workmates. Sharing how we feel and offering support to others is important. We also recommend sticking to a routine such as having regular mealtimes, bedtimes and exercising. Tell yourself that how you are feeling is a normal reaction and will pass – it’s nothing to be afraid of.If you feel you are not coping, it is important to talk with a health professional. Call your regular health care provider or for support with grief, anxiety, distress or mental wellbeing, you can call or text 1737 – free, anytime, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – to talk with a trained counsellor.

If you’re not sure who to contact for help, call the free government helpline on 0800 779 997 (8am–1am, 7 days a week).

And remember. If you’re feeling unwell call your GP before you visit. Or call Healthline on 0800 358 5453.