In Islam, the importance of caring for the elderly can never be understated and that message certainly rings true in 2020. With many of our older brothers and sisters asked to stay at home in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, caring for those most vulnerable in our local community is more important than ever.
Even before the coronavirus turned the world upside down, and long after it has gone, the need to look out for our seniors remains. Whether it is because they aren’t quite as mobile as they used to be, they are living alone and feeling lonely or are suffering from a degenerative disease, there are many reasons to do what we can and care for our elderly brothers and sisters.
Here in the UK, many of our elders are living in poverty, unable to go out to work like they once could and therefore unable to cover the costs of buying food. With so many of our senior citizens living alone and many more without family living close by, thousands are forced to fend for themselves. Needless to say, the events of 2020 have made this no easier.
This is just one of the reasons that UK Islamic Mission implores you to donate to our iCare Food Hub, where a single donation of £30 will feed one person for a month. This food pack will provide much-needed nutrition for someone living alone and the UKIM team will provide you with regular updates on how your kind donation has been used.
Our team distributes food parcels directly to those most in need, meaning that an elderly person who struggles to leave the house can still get the vital nutrition they need. This relieves much of the pressure for our elderly brothers and sisters, knowing that their local community is looking out for them.
You should never underestimate the power of conversation as, for so many of our elders, this is something they don’t get to enjoy each day. Living alone can be lonely, especially if they are unable to get out and about as they normally would – often, even just a quick chat with someone on the till can be enough to get them through the day.
Islamic culture places great importance on being there for our elders and this is something that we cannot stress enough. If you have an elderly relative such as a grandparent, or you know of someone living in your community that lives alone, make an effort to visit them for a quick conversation. You don’t have to spend hours in their company, but just a few minutes of your time can provide a mental boost for someone that will be the highlight of their day.
During the current global situation, you may not be able to go inside and have a cup of tea but you can still connect with the elderly members of your community. To maintain social distancing, some of the things you can do include:
While there has been lots of conversation surrounding how modern technology, such as video calling, allows us to keep in touch, elders may not be as receptive to these mediums. That is why we make a point of highlighting more traditional forms of communication, such as letters and the telephone, as these will be easier for a generation that may not be as tech-savvy.
As a result of COVID-19, there has been a rise in people offering to pick up and drop off shopping for the elderly who are either shielding or do not feel comfortable venturing outside. Considering that supermarkets can become busy and you may be asked to queue outside for a period of time before you are allowed in, it is easy to see why many are not willing.
Again, even before the pandemic hit, doing the weekly shop isn’t something that came easy to many. For example, carrying heavy bags isn’t possible for the frailest amongst our older population, who may otherwise rely on public transport or walking to and from the shop. Anyone who has tried to carry all the shopping in a single journey will know how difficult that is.
Offering to take care of the shopping may come as a welcome relief to an older brother or sister as they do not need to worry about these challenges. Even if you offer to go along with them once social distancing restrictions are eased, this will go a long way.
Throughout this post, there has been a continued mention of COVID-19 because it has changed almost every aspect of how we live our lives, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. The pandemic has forced millions of elderly people to shield away from the virus due to the potentially fatal results should they contract it.
The lockdown measures taken in the UK have been far from easy but, arguably, it is the elderly that have had it worse than anyone else. Isolated away from friends and family, unable to hug their grandchildren, social distancing has surely had had some negative mental and physical consequences for the elderly.
Here at UK Islamic Mission, we are doing all that we can to help those most affected by the pandemic and we are asking for your support to help us do more. Through our UK COVID-19 Emergency Appeal, we are delivering groceries, medication, and counselling. We also pick up the phone for a friendly conversation with those living alone.
Just £20 will buy a hygiene pack, consisting of gloves, masks, toilet rolls, disinfectant, and hand sanitiser, while £50 will provide a food pack to feed a family for a month. Anything that you can give will be invaluable to help the elderly through today's hardships, as well as in the future when the pandemic becomes a thing of the past.
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