By: Editorial Team | Posted: April 1, 2020 | Updated: April 5, 2023
While staying at home for weeks or months on end is hard for everyone, older adults have some unique challenges. And as the enforced lockdown winds down eventually, those over 70 are likely to be the last to see a return to “normal” life.
We created this page so members of the Tech-enhanced Life community have a place to share their learnings about how they are handling the challenges of “sheltering in place”.
We have some suggestions that may be helpful, and share them below. But we hope you will share what you are learning too, either with comments or by email — and we will add them to this page which will be a living repository of learnings.
As days of isolation turn into weeks, people’s minds turn increasingly to connections with friends and family. And to new ways to interact virtually with people who share their interests.
Let us know what you are doing to stay connected in the time of COVID-19.
And if you are wanting to start doing video calls, but are not sure how, take a look at our suggestions for the best technology for Video Calls. And if you have better ideas please add them to that post. See also “Virtual Connections to the Tech-Challenged“.
Getting the Groceries
Other than avoiding getting sick, the most essential need we all have is a regular supply of food and water. Grocery delivery services have become an essential part of daily life.
But what if you are not sure how to use them or which ones to try?
Our Longevity Explorers have been having success with Instacart, which can deliver from many stores including Safeway, and with Wholefoods delivery. But there are many other services, some of which are limited to specific regions of the country.
If you are knowledgeable about grocery deliveries, please weigh in.
Are you “Getting Groceries for Others”?
One of our explorers started a conversation about what to do if it is now your “job” to help others with their grocery deliveries (such as an older adult who is not tech-savvy).
- Join the conversation: Groceries in the Time of COVID: Ideas?
All the online advice for the pandemic points out how desirable it is to have a 90 day supply of essential medications.
In addition to this good advice, however, we are getting enquiries like this:
I go weekly to my mother’s house and fill up her pill organizer with her medications for her —so she can take the right medication at the right time. But now I can’t visit her. What should I do?
There are a couple of solutions to this dilemma.
- You can get some pharmacies to deliver pre-packaged daily packs containing medication that has already been organized for you (e.g. PillPack).
- Alternatively, you can now buy some very sophisticated automatic pill dispensers that can hold up to 90 days of medications, and which do the “organizing” for you — making the need for visits much less frequent.
You can see some quite extensive research we have done into these various pill dispenser products here.
Preparing for the Worst
The unfortunate truth is that older adults are especially vulnerable to COVID-19. So, many of our community want to be sure they are adequately prepared in case they get sick and the worst happens.
Some “End of Life Planning” seems like a good idea if you have not done it up to now.
- See our research and recommendations for End of Life Planning, POLST/MOLST forms, and Advance Directives.
Help in Emergency
If you are spending much more time at home alone than you normally do, you might be wondering what would happen if you had an accident or got sick.
In case you are thinking a medical alert might make sense, we have spent many hours evaluating these products.
- You can find our medical alert research here.
Remote Medical Consultation (Telehealth)
But what will you do if you actually get sick?
The days of just popping down to the doctor’s office or heading into the Emergency Room are over for the present.
Instead, ideally you would do a “virtual consultation” with your primary care physician, who can ask about your symptoms and try and triage the situation — and tell you exactly what to do.
Many healthcare systems now offer this telehealth service.
We think it’s good to be prepared in advance. We suggest:
- find out if this is a service that your healthcare provider offers;
- check if it will be covered by your insurance, or think about how you would pay for it if it is not;
- start thinking about what “tools” you might need to make such a virtual consultation effective.
By “tools”, we mean things like a thermometer, so you can tell the doctor what your temperature is. And perhaps other devices to help with diagnosis, like a blood pressure monitor, and a pulse oximeter.
And it would be a good idea to find out what “platform” your doctor likes to use (learn more about video call technology), and experiment with it in advance. Because you are not going to want to be trying to figure out how to do video calls when you are sick, and badly need a virtual consultation.
Share What You Are Doing
Please add your ideas, and what you are doing to adapt to the new reality we find ourselves in — by adding your thoughts, learnings, or questions below.
Useful Products & Resources
Looking for something specific we don’t mention here? You can search in our “Useful Products and Resources” listings database for things that seem potentially relevant to this situation.
It’s well worth reading some of the comments below from older adults, as they provide an antidote to the doom and gloom and stress-inducing tone of most media coverage.
Here is one of our favorites from explorer Edna S in Idaho.
Since we have to wear a face mask we could use our lipstick to paint a smile over it when we go out for fresh air rather than to rob a bank.
*Disclosure: The research and opinions in this article are those of the author, and may or may not reflect the official views of Tech-enhanced Life.
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In some cases, when we evaluate products and services, we ask the vendor to loan us the products we review (so we don’t need to buy them). Beyond the above, Tech-enhanced Life has no financial interest in any products or services discussed here, and this article is not sponsored by the vendor or any third party. See How we Fund our Work.