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Helpful tips for the elderly in isolation

In these tips I have to declare an interest and also state that I am a fit and active mid seventy who has devised a daily routine which takes into account how to relax, exercise, stay mobile, reading, staying informed and time for reflection.

These are not dos and don’ts and can be adapted by tweaking as applicable to each individual. If you are not fit and mobile it’s ok but you would have to seek professional advice on low impact exercise.

The main aim of my daily routine is to occupy the enforced time indoors usefully, with positive things to do in order to make these long days shorter and more fruitful.

The main pitfalls to falling into anxiety in the current crisis are too much information at your fingertips. Yes read the paper if you can get it delivered or online ( Keep up with local and international headlines on Radio Gibraltar or TV and no bingeing on extended or rolling news.

I have given up overdosing on Sky News. Twice daily news and not much more is a good plan. The daily press conference from No.6 Convent Place at 4pm on GBC is a must see.

I listen to Radio Gibraltar local news at 8.30am over breakfast and keep it on till BBC news at sometimes followed by today’s papers’ headlines. Next we tidy up and make the beds properly.

I then review social media for half an hour but selectively. Since we started isolation we have gone back to washing dishes manually to use up more time. Personal grooming is important and beneficial to keeping the spirits up so use a half hour mid morning for that. Avoid being in Pjs all day long, it’s not normal attire.

At midday I have set aside time for reflection.

I tune in to worship on social media or read (I have three books on the go at present) and I don’t usually spend more than a half hour on any one thing. Before lunch a few exercises such as picking up your legs marching smartly aided by a chair for balance is good.

Try to get mildly breathless and stop between repetitions. If you can get down on the floor, a few core exercises will help keep your back supple simply by lying flat on your back with arms extended sideways and twisting your lower body to each side for a few repetitions.

We try to lunch at around 1.30pm so we can also have the local news on and the BBC headlines at 2pm. Washing up dishes is shared but the task is welcome so that when you sit down to watch the Government update on GBC television at 4pm you will feel you have earned the break (45mins). Aim for teatime around 5pm and go sparingly on eating as I have set up a walking session indoors for after teatime.

Arrange any furniture so that you can go walking around your home for twenty to thirty minutes.

I carry 1.5 litre bottles of water in each hand and use these as dumb bells to flex my arms as I walk around and where space allows. Don’t get carried away and smash the lamp shade! I do a half hour walk without bumping into furniture (well sometimes) and as brisk as possible where possible.

There is a reward after the ‘home walking’ and ideally you should get down on the floor as close as possible to a wall and bring your feet up as straight as you can.

With help you can be at nearly a right angle to the wall and you should hold that position for a half hour. You can read up why that is so good for you.

The added reward is that you can listen to relaxing music from YouTube to help pass the time. Avoid new age pulsing music for deep relaxation.

Try piano music which allows you to enjoy it and relax without napping.
After that session at around 7.30pm Canal Sur provides a regional newsy update which is entertaining and relevant for 20 minutes before their cooking programme which I find welcome.

At 8.15pm tune to GBC for Newswatch and follow that with a light supper. You have to take into account that your food intake has to reduce as your activity has decreased since isolation. The maths is simple, if you don’t expend too many calories you should not overeat and pile them on.

In the gaps across the day if you only tidy one drawer per day you will get through many such menial tasks in a week. As far as possible avoid the couch potato syndrome. After washing up and tidying up at night it’s preferable to watch TV from bed for an hour or two as it’s kinder on the back.

I am not tempted to watch any more news or debates but rather seek out a good series on Netflix and binge watch to relax.

I leave time for a bit of social media browsing and keeping in touch with friends, avoiding the keyboard warrior shooting from the hip ‘speak freely’ brigade. In these times be ‘keyboard kind’ and spread positivity by choosing your words wisely.

You should sleep better by adapting to a daily routine of your own, perhaps using mine as a template to build upon. The last eight days have not flown by but I can vouch for feeling useful and positive in the circumstances and recommend a daily routine for staying in good shape physically and mentally. Send your feedback to Chronicle letters, we love to hear from you.

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