Bringing love and care to elderly people living alone
During the current coronavirus outbreak, Hong Kong has seen a city-wide shortage of surgical masks and infection control materials. The effects on society have been significant, especially on elderly people living alone. These elderly people cannot afford to spend much money on such items, and they frequently lack the physical health and stamina to stand in a queue for hours to buy them. But without infection control materials, everyone is at risk. Some elderly people may be too shy to ask for help, as they do not want to bother anyone. The situation is alarming.
Mr Ng, aged 79, who has been living alone for many years, after learning about the seriousness of the viral outbreak on the news in late January, he became afraid to leave the house and stopped interacting with his neighbours, whom he used to meet every day. As he had no masks at home, he only dared to go out and buy newspapers from a nearby convenience store at 5am, when there were fewer people on the streets. In the past, he would cook for himself every day, but these days, as he does not want to go out, he only orders takeaway food. This has not only increased his living expenses, it has also dramatically affected his daily life.
Mr Ng is also a patient with chronic disease. He needs to have medical check-up in hospital every week. However, unable to obtain any masks, he became worried that he would not be allowed to enter the hospital. And, having few friends, he found it difficult to ask for help. Fortunately, Ms Lam – a volunteer from the Hong Kong Red Cross (HKRC)’ “Community Health Care Project for the Homebound Elderly in Sham Shui Po” – recently called Mr Ng to ask about his condition and his current needs. After learning that Mr Ng had no masks, the day after the call, she promptly provided him with a variety of infection control items, including surgical masks, alcohol-based hand sanitizer, disinfectant wet wipes, and personal hygiene and psychological support leaflets. With his immediate worries put to rest, Mr Ng expressed his gratitude to Ms Lam.
The viral outbreak has not only created huge inconveniences for Mr Ng, it has also made him more prone to have negative emotions due to a lack of social contact with others. Many people also feel the same way during this period, and support from other people can significantly reduce anxiety. Mr Ng is happy to receive regular calls from HKRC volunteers – knowing that other people care about him.
While fighting the virus, it is important that we reach out and share our love and care for the elderly people around us and try to understand their needs. This simple act of concern may help ease their minds and resolve their difficulties. In this time of hardship, let’s put into practice the spirit of humanity and show our support and care for our fellow human beings.