Coronavirus: Advice to older people, families, friends and carers

The British Geriatrics Society (BGS) is the membership association for professionals specialising in the healthcare of older people across the UK. The information provided on this website is primarily for the use of our members and is intended to help them to keep up-to-date with the latest research and clinical practice. Our members are supported by a small staff team, none of whom have a clinical or medical background.

We know that older people are keen to have reliable up-to-date information, especially in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are not an advocacy or support organisation for older people and we are not qualified to give advice, medical or otherwise, to older people and their loved ones. There are many charities that are able to provide this support and we list some of these below.

We encourage older people and their families to contact these organisations, either online or by following links to local support:

Dealing with social isolation

During the COVID-19 pandemic, older people are being advised to stay at home and limit social contact with others. People showing symptoms of COVID-19 are advised to completely self-isolate. These people are at increased risk of loneliness and social isolation at this time.

Family, friends and neighbours are encouraged to take steps to support people who are self-isolating. Measures they could take include:

  1. Mobilising a community response such as downloading these postcards to offer help to neighbours or joining a local COVID-19 Mutual Aid group to help with coordinated help for vulnerable neighbours.
  2. Offering to go shopping for people who can’t get out to the shops.
  3. Setting up regular phone calls with isolated friends and loved ones.
  4. Setting up older relatives with a tablet/laptop/smartphone to enable them to have regular video calls with family.
  5. Posting a DVD series they might like through their letterbox.
  6. Encouraging older people who are still well to stay active and go for walks.
  7. Speaking to local Age UK about befriending services.
  8. Encouraging older people to pursue hobbies they can do from home such as writing, art, reading, organising photos, crafting or puzzles.