As published in The Advertiser’s Boomer lift-out on 13 April

Who would have thought how drastically life could change within just a few weeks? Each week we are faced with new regulations to keep us safe and well during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As much as I support the measures we’re taking, it is hard some days. It is the simple things that I miss: a coffee with a friend and greeting them with a warm embrace, dinner with friends, visits with family and even group fitness sessions.

Each day, as we adjust to our new world to protect our physical health, it is just as vital to support our mental health. With the changes we are facing, avoiding loneliness becomes a bigger challenge. But keeping a physical distance doesn’t mean we can’t continue to connect – with our friends, our family, our co-workers or neighbours.

We know that loneliness is already a problem for many in our “known” world, but in this “new normal” it is a challenge we all need to consider. Loneliness can have a wide range of effects on both our physical and mental health.

Some of us are at more risk than others and now, more than ever, we need to ensure we look after each other. Even though we cannot catch up in the usual way, we need to ensure we continue to maintain routines.

You may not be going out, however it is still important to get dressed for the day. Head out into the fresh air and connect with the outside world by standing on your balcony, within your front garden or looking out the window.

Stay connected with family and friends – pick up the phone and call. It may be going back to more simple connections, such as writing a letter or a daily email. If you have neighbours close by, ensure you do a driveway check-in, as is happening on the Yorke Peninsula – a “coo-ee” call.

There is also a range of supports out there if you are struggling. The new SA COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line is available from 8am to 8pm every day on 1800 632 753.

Reach out to others and seek support if you need it. We are in this together.

Mel Ottaway
Executive Manager, Services for Older People