COPE Galway is reaching out to older people in Galway City and County to encourage them to look after themselves and to let their community help during the COVID-19 crisis.
While it is very important that older people protect themselves as much as possible in the coming weeks and months, this will of course, lead to higher levels of loneliness and isolation.
There are, however, ways of making this difficult time easier for older people and there is a huge amount of good will across the Galway community to help.
COPE Galway has set up a practical helpline to connect older people in Galway with ways of meeting their needs.
The helpline number – 085 87 67 785 – will operate between 9am and 4pm, Monday to Friday.
COPE Galway CEO, Jacquie Horan outlines practical ways to seek help during this time:
“The main message now is for older people who might think they don’t want to bother anyone, to please ask for help. Please let your needs be known and please accept help offered.”
“First and foremost, I would ask people to make sure they have all they need for their basic health and wellbeing such as food, heat, and medication.
“Many shops and pharmacies are offering help and getting supplies is easy to arrange.”
Being isolated can be very challenging, Jacquie Horan acknowledged, and the longer it goes on, the more difficult it becomes for our mental wellbeing.
“While physical distancing is very important in keeping COVID 19 contained, maintaining social contact in other ways is necessary.”
“This is the time to reach out to people you know by phone or online and to stay connected.”
People should try and keep occupied, COPE said, suggesting that people should take up old or new habits such as reading, gardening, puzzles, art, or almost anything.
Look beyond your own resources, if friends or family have the means to help access these hobbies in a safe way, then by all means, ask away.
If you do not have access to someone that can help, then call COPE’s Helpline on 085 87 67 785.
They can help with these practical needs, either through their own resources or through the many offers of help which are coming in from individuals and the local groups across our communities, including the Gardaí who are setting up a community response.
In this way, we can help with food shopping; providing cooked meals; prescription collections; fuel delivery and more.
Or it could even by something as simple as a regular phone call to check in on people and make sure they are ok, or have a general friendly chat.
They try to be “mindful at all times of being sensitive and respectful to each person’s needs and abilities,” Jacquie said.
COPE also has a message for the wider community, that if you know an older person who may need help or companionship, please reach out to them in a safe way in this time.
An Post also have a fantastic initiative in offering free postcards for anyone to send to let people they care about know they are thinking of them.
Jacquie concluded by saying that “We all have a role to play in making sure older people in the community are not isolated”.