Sunday, November 28

Digital Divide Increases Loneliness At Home During Covid-19 Restrictions – Age Concern


New Zealand retirement homes and retirement villages take care of their residents more than usual to ensure they remain connected to the community during closure.

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But some still feel alone as they struggle to use modern technology to communicate with their long-missed friends and family.

Age Concern Auckland CEO Kevin Lamb said the digital divide was making life increasingly difficult.

“This could just be having access to food, prescription drugs, being able to pay bills, all these kinds of things, which we take for granted.”

“We get a lot of messages from the government and other agencies telling you that you can shop online, that you can get help online, or that you can process payments online.

“That is not only not useful for an elderly person who does not have access to a smart device or a computer or does not have Wi-Fi at home. It is also, if you want, to put salt on the wound, because it is quite revealing. He says he is outcast, that he has no help and that everyone else will be fine. “

He said they were seeing more mental anguish with this confinement.

“It’s about fear or anxiety and a real worry that goes to people who think they can’t bear to move on. It’s that bad in some cases.”

Retirement Villages on Levels 3 and 4 are largely closed to visitors.

The only visitors allowed in are residents visiting hospice and end-of-life residents.

Ryman Healthcare COO Cheyne Chalmers said they were doing everything they could to keep residents as safe and happy as possible.

“One of the first things we did was contact the team members in our village and the residents of our village and we said, look, this means you have to practically stay where you are.

“We will make sure you have everything you need. We will bring you groceries if you live in our independent living environment, we will set up Zoom calls if you are in our care environment so that you can speak to your families and loved ones.”

Ninety-five percent of Ryman Healthcare nursing home residents are fully vaccinated, and about 95 percent of workers are fully vaccinated as well.

They have also implemented bubbles inside nursing homes.

“In a nursing home where there could be 40 residents divided into 20 on one side and 20 on the other, so they can be together,” Chalmers said.

“We keep doing social distancing, hand hygiene, because we know where everyone has been and therefore we essentially take care of them in that group and that becomes the bubble.”

“We have the same team members looking after them all the time, so those team members don’t move anywhere else in the village, they only care about those residents when they are on duty.”

Cheyne Chalmers said they are also providing residents with plenty of entertainment at the confinement, including delivering a ‘happy hour in a bag’ every Friday.

“We made a deal with our wine distributor, and we have a lot of bottles of wine and candy, chips and things that go in a little bag. And then our team writes a note and then we take them around and leave them outside all our doors. residents “.

Kerry King, 92, lives at the St Johns Pah nursing home in Epsom.

He said that even though the confinement is boring, it keeps busy.

“I have all kinds of entertainment. Some TV shows, Netflix, audiobooks, ordinary books to read. I call the family, they call me.”

He says that the most difficult thing about being confined is not being able to see his friends and family.

“I have a friend Margaret that I talk to every day. When there is no lockdown we go out and she comes and takes me out, so I miss her a lot.

“And then the family, my daughter Rosemary and my son Walter. I have a great-grandson, he is the latest addition to the family. He is the most interesting at the moment, but of course I never see him now, so all of that has been gone.

No family visits, no Margaret. I call her every day, but she is not a substitute. “

But he is fortunate to be provided with meals as modern technology is difficult for him to use.

“I was a little late for modern technology and luckily I don’t have to order food so you know it’s just the phone and the entertainment stuff, but sometimes I’m wrong.”

Retired Olympic weightlifter Precious Mackenzie lives in the Albany Village of Settlers Lifestyle.

He is locked up alone with his family and can only speak to them on the phone.

“You learn to live on your own, and because my wife is in care herself, she is going through dementia. So I’m at home alone, and the saddest thing, of course, is that I should have taken lessons from her. before. She contracted dementia to cook me. But anyway, I get away with it. “

He has been watching the Paralympic Games to pass the time locked up.

“They have done a very good job, yes, our athletes have done very, very well. I am very proud of them.”

Meanwhile, Kevin Lamb from Age Concern Auckland said that if you have an elderly relative, there is one simple thing you can do, just give them a call.

“We’ve called thousands of people during this lockdown just to make sure they’re okay, and we asked them if they’d like us to call him on a regular basis and then we do. For some people, they say no, it’s okay if I need anything I’ll call you But knowing that someone is there is the key difference. “

“It’s about making sure we respond to what the oldest person in our life wants. If they want us to call every day. Let’s do it. If they’re happy to call us, but you know, we’re there to help, that’s fine too.”


www.rnz.co.nz

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