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Caring for older Australians and small businesses during COVID-19 – experts comment


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Now is the time to rethink how older Australians can stay healthy and connected, and to support our small businesses during the Coronavirus pandemic sweeping Australia. Experts from Edith Cowan University are on hand to give tips on how to navigate this quickly evolving situation.

In this edition our experts advise on:

  • Supermarket supply chains
  • Threats to small business
  • Grandparents raising grandchildren
  • Getting older people tech savvy
  • Tackling loneliness in an isolated world

Desperately seeking toilet paper? Relief is on the way

Dr Flavio Romero MacauSenior Lecturer in Supply Chain Management and Global Logistics

“When will the panic buying stop and supermarkets get back to normal? The good news: well before the coronavirus crisis is over. Manufacturers, suppliers and transporters – all profit-driven – are moving to answer the call. Locally made products will hit the shelves in two or three weeks. For those made overseas, it may be a three month wait.” MORE

Small businesses will face a new coronavirus threat

Professor Pi-Shen Seetentrepreneurship and innovation expert
“Small and micro businesses account for 35% of Australia’s gross domestic profit and employ 44% of Australia’s workforce. They often have net income well below the average Australian wage with more than half reporting earnings between $0 and $25,000 per annum. As such, they do not normally have the resources to deal with severe external shocks like that of COVID-19.

“Small businesses are vulnerable to challenges such as supply chain shock, access to finance and late payments. Many will struggle to remain viable and require collaborative support of industry associations, government and fellow businesses to help weather the impending storm.”
Spare a thought for grandparents raising their grandchildren

Dr David Coallexpert in grandparenting and grandparents raising their grandchildren
“Spare a thought for grandparents who are raising their grandchildren. Taking the responsibilities of parents, being further socially isolated by the virus, getting kids ready for school when the dedicated shopping hours are open, and often relying on a low income, means this is a perfect storm for grandparents who are raising their own grandchildren. This is a time to take care of others in our society for who COVID-19 represents one more challenge they need to meet in their daily lives.”

How the elderly can stay active during quarantine

Professor Ken Nosaka, exercise science expert specialising in older people
“With the elderly and vulnerable being advised to stay at home during the COVID-19 crisis, the importance of staying active as never been greater. Older people in particular are at risk of physical decline, and a lack of regular exercise could lead to a litany of problems including reduced muscle strength, coordination, balance, flexibility and mobility, and decreased cardiovascular and respiratory functions, all of which can make people more susceptible to ill health.
“The home could be an ideal place for exercises to make all people, including older people, healthier and fitter and improve immune function to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection. Some quick and easy exercises can be done from the comfort of home requiring no equipment and just a bit of motivation.”

Switching grandparents onto the Internet

Dr David Cooklecturer in cyber -ecurity
“Most older people have a strong desire and drive to understand and engage with the Internet. Using the right words and breaking down terms to avoid techno-jargon is the key to basic security for older people using online systems.
“Simple descriptions that use acronyms or words with double meanings and ambiguous connotations work best. Use phrases like Virtual Private Network instead of VPN so that everyone can more easily understand the different layers between secure online and the unsecure environments. Older people may also assign dismissive attitudes towards words and acronyms that they consider to be silly, or made up, such as phishing or cookies.”

Tackling loneliness in a social distancing world

Associate Professor Mandy Stanley, occupational therapy expert in loneliness and older people
“There is growing evidence that loneliness is a major risk factor for ill-health such as cardiovascular disease, as much as smoking and too much sedentary behaviour. To manage loneliness people need to connect socially and share activities with others. The policy of social distancing as a response to the COVID19 virus poses challenges to maintaining social connection, particularly for older people and risks increasing loneliness.

“We need to be looking out for older people in the community, making sure they have access to essential supplies and checking in with people more regularly by phone. For all ages, having a range of things to do in the home that are enjoyable and a change from tv watching such as crafts, art, jigsaws, word games, board games, sorting through family photos, family history research, clearing out the wardrobe before winter or miniature gardens, can help to relieve boredom and social isolation.”

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