Staying Well During COVID-19
Coronavirus is on everyone’s minds. The best way to keep it out of our bodies is to practice physical distance from others.
While it helps protect ourselves and stop the virus from spreading in the community, physical distance does create an extra burden for people living alone and those with already limited social contact.
We can all easily wash hands frequently, cover our mouths when coughing and sneezing, keep at least 1.5 metres from others.
It’s a bit harder to find ways to keep connected and well during these extraordinary times when everyone – but particularly people over 60 – is urged to stay at home.
For official advice on how to keep healthy in these times of coronavirus, the best sources are federal and state governments. There is also a helpline to call – 1800 020 080 – if you are concerned or need advice about COVID-19.
COTA-WA (Council of the Ageing) offers a wealth of information on Covid-19 for older people, including a factsheet for people over 60 and people living with dementia
It’s important to find ways that work personally for you to keep connection and well-being.
Virtual Village Hub
In the past couple of weeks, in a steep learning curve, the Village Hub moved most of our activities online, using Zoom as a platform where people can attend classes, run groups of interest or join a daily chat – all that in the company of other Village Hub members.
At the moment, our Meditation, Ballroom Fit, Line Dancing, Gentle Pilates, Tai Chi, Active for Life and Chair Yoga classes are running at the same days and times – please check our calendar –, and you can do them from home by joining us on Zoom. We hope to add more activities soon.
We have a daily ChatZoom at 11am (Monday to Friday) for anyone to join in a friendly conversation with other Village Hub and community members. A regular movie club will run so people can watch movies and then connect to discuss.
All our activities are FREE for the month of April, and we have also been running regular free sessions to help people to use Zoom. Mostly, what you need to be able to attend online activities is a device (a mobile phone, a tablet, a laptop or a desktop) and internet connection.
Even if you don’t have internet at home, you are still able to join Zoom sessions by dialing in with your phone (landline or feature phone).
Most importantly, our Neighbour-to-Neighbour program is organizing volunteers to make regular calls to members and others in the community who would like to keep in touch that way.
If you would like to volunteer to make calls, all you need to do is contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org or (08) 9361 2904.
Keep Routine Going
Keeping up with Village Hub activities also helps with routine. Nelson Mandela – who was incarcerated for decades during the apartheid era in South Africa – believed that routine was key to both physical health and peace of mind.
Staying at home with loads of time for TV and internet can throw your routine out of the window, which may add to a sense of isolation.
Not being able to attend religious services, for a lot of us, is also a burden. Some churches, like local Riverview Church, are streaming their services – others are listed here. Check with your church if they have also moved their services online.
Another factor that may affect well being is not spending time with grandchildren. But there’s plenty you can do online with them: read books together, work on craft projects, play the same set of Lego, or event teach them something you know well.
In the USA, grandparents got together to offer lessons to their grandkids online, in what they called Grandparents Academy, with topics ranging from number patterns to presidential history. What could you teach your grandchildren?
Exercise and contact with family will help you observe some routine. Once that’s done, there is no lack of interesting things to keep occupied online.
Do Things With Others
A good idea is to try and do these things with others – for instance, read the same book or watch the same movie and then catch up online or on the phone to have a chat about it.
Locally, the Town of Victoria Park Library offers great resources for those staying at home – you can sign up online if you are not currently a member.
For those who have a membership with the Library, you can access Kanopy and watch up to 4 movies for free per month, perform Ancestry searches, find tutorials on how to use social media and digital resources and even learn languages.
The State Library of Western Australia and the City of Perth Library also allow you to become a member online, and offer a wealth of online resources to members. With the State Library, you can even order a Mystery Box of books – physical books! – and ask someone to pick it up for you.
Talking about books, LibriVox works to make all books in the public domain available for free in audio format. You can even volunteer to read and record an audiobook.
Movies are also easy to access, and the team at the Perth Festival has put out recommendations for several platforms, including SBS, which is free of charge. Some powerful documentaries are available for free, with Q&A sessions following.
Local filmmakers are making their films available for a fee – like the directors of In My Blood It Runs, a recent documentary about at 10 year old Arrernte boy growing up in Alice Springs.
This may be a great opportunity to learn more about Aboriginal culture, and Curtin University is offering free online Noongar language courses.
There is plenty of opportunity for e-learning through MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) – for free – and just browsing through their catalog will keep you occupied for a while.
The University of Tasmania, for instance, offers a free online MOOC course on Understanding Dementia.
Picking a MOOC course or even embarking on a citizen science project together with a couple of friends may help keep you mentally active and connected while learning together.
Play, Garden, Support Local
For the moments you won’t be exercise, reading or studying, there are crosswords and boardgames to be played online, walking tours to embark on, American National Parks and museums (the Louvre, the British Museum or the Metropolitan in New York, to name a few) to visit, great music legends to learn about and live music by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra to follow.
Remember to take breaks and step outside, do a bit of gardening (for advice on gardening, what to plant, how to keep soil healthy or to compost, you can contact the Vic Park Community Garden or local business Urban Revolution), say hello to the neighbours while keeping a safe distance.
If you need groceries, a meal or something else delivered, choosing local small businesses helps the Vic Park economy and keeps you a bit more connected to the community.
A local resident created a list of businesses still operating and offering deliveries or take-away, and the Town of Victoria Park has made the list available online.
If you use Facebook, you can follow updates and posts from community members and business owners at the Support Our Strip group.
The satisfaction from helping the local community and supporting others is usually a great way to improve your own well being.
Connect and Help Others
Even from home, there’s a lot we can do to connect with others. You can let your neighbours know you would like to exchange letters, or go online to find penpals around the world and start a conversation.
You can volunteer to write letters to people battling depression around the globe or stay closer to home and check if there’s anything you can do volunteering from home.
One easy way is to raise your hand to contribute to your Village Hub, either joining our friendly calls to the most isolated people in our community, participating in ChatZoom or offering to run a group online to enjoy with others.
We can’t wait to be able to do Neighbour-to-Neighbour in the flesh again, cheer over a drink at our monthly sundowner and hear the laughter coming from groups of friends before and after each class at The Homestead.
Until then, let’s support each other in keeping our bodies healthy and our minds actively engaged – our community is our best connection.