Older people and COVID-19

Wellbeing advice and contacts to support older people at this time

COVID-19 is causing disruption throughout the world and for some of us anxiety and fear. Please remember we are all in this together, and there are many organisations and people that can help. Here is some wellbeing advice, and contacts to support you at the moment.

Key resources


Staying safe


At Alert Level 2, while it is now safe to leave your home and meet people socially it is still important to be aware of physical distancing. If you are at risk of more severe symptoms from COVID-19, you may choose to continue to limit the number of people you have contact with even when New Zealand is at Alert Level 2. Staying safe involves being aware of physical distancing and practising safe hygiene.

Physical distancing

Physical distancing is important to help protect you and others from COVID-19, which spreads via droplets from coughing and sneezing. 

Physical distancing measures are different in uncontrolled and controlled environments and for people you live with, family/whānau and close friends. 

Uncontrolled environments

Uncontrolled environments include supermarkets and other retail outlets, shopping malls, parks, and playgrounds. Keep at least a 2 metre distance from people you don’t know and who can’t easily be contact traced when out and about. 

Controlled environments

Controlled environments include workplaces, marae, church, clubs/groups, recreation and sports teams where a contact tracing register is kept. Keep at least a 1 metre distance between people you don’t live with or aren’t family/whānau and close friends. 

People you live with, family/whānau and close friends

You can have close physical contact with those who are not sick. You should use your judgement about any risks to you or them and remember the more space between you and others, the harder it is for the virus to spread. 

Basic hygiene

Basic hygiene measures include: good hand hygiene, cough and sneeze etiquette, avoid touching your face, and clean surfaces.

  • Wash your hands with soap and water often (for at least 20 seconds) and dry thoroughly. Use an alcohol-based sanitiser and rub hands together if soap and water is unavailable.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or cover your mouth and nose with tissues. Put them in a bin immediately.
  • Avoid touching your face, including your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean. Surfaces may have infectious droplets.
  • Clean surfaces regularly. This includes items frequently touch like door handles and phones.

Advice about managing your health conditions during COVID-19.

How to access healthcare


  • Health and medical facilities are open.
  • If you are severely unwell, for example having trouble breathing, contact emergency services (dial 111).

Mental Wellbeing


Having been physically isolated for a long period of time may have led to feelings of loneliness, fear of becoming unwell, or boredom. Here are a few suggested ways you can look after yourself:

  • It is very important to stay connected with friends, whānau and others. If you need to stay home perhaps connect with these people via telephone, email, social media, or video conferencing (eg, Skype or Facebook Messenger).
  • Staying connected means you can help each other, look out for each other’s wellbeing or just be there for each other, offering a safe place for sharing your thoughts and concerns. If you do not have whānau or friends to connect with, others can check in on you, for example, St John’s Caring Caller where you are matched with a volunteer who will call you and check everything is okay and have a chat.
  • You may have experienced hard times before; you could think about the strengths that got you through these and how they could be applied at this time.
  • Eat healthy food and drinks and if you drink alcohol keep it to safe limits.
  • Keep regular sleep routines.
  • Remain active – get creative with the physical activities you can do at home
  • Do healthy activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. This could be exercising in your living room, building something in your shed, singing, or gardening.

If you are struggling to cope, and feel anxious or down


  • Please let someone you trust know. Don’t keep these feelings to yourself. There are people who can and want to help. If you want to talk to a professional a good start maybe your GP, or you can call the Depression Helpline about how you are feeling or to ask a question: 0800 111 757 or text 4202.
  • Remember that it is okay to share your concerns with others you trust and in doing so you may end up providing support to them too.

There are many organisations and people who can help


Many organisations and people in your community realise it’s a difficult time right now. Check out the list of contacts:

  • If you are feeling anxious or just need someone to talk to call or text 1737
  • Age Concern
  • If you need essential supplies, and do not have friends or whānau who can help, contact the Civil Defence Emergency Management Group.
  • If you need to discuss your entitlements, phone the Ministry of Social Development Senior Services line 0800 552 002
  • Concerned your symptoms may be COVID-19? Call the COVID-19 Healthline: 0800 358 5453
  • For general health issues, phone your doctor.
  • For emergencies dial 111.
  • If you are unable to find what you need online, and you’re not sure who to contact for help, call the free government helpline on 0800 779 997or on 0800 22 66 57 (8am to 1am, seven days a week).
  • Other organisations.

Long-term health conditions


If you have a long-term health condition you may be more vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19. Stay informed with up-to-date, relevant and credible information from our partners.

You can help


  • Get involved with the community or call friends or neighbours who might be feeling isolated. Don’t underestimate the power you have to offer hope to another person.
  • Many people run businesses, volunteer, look after others, and are active in their local communities – consider how you can do some of your usual activities if you have to stay home.

Download the NZ COVID Tracer app


Mobile app coming soon

Download available here: https://tracing.covid19.govt.nz

The quicker we can contact people who might have come into contact with COVID-19, the quicker we can stop the spread of the virus.

Here’s how you can help support contact tracing

  • Sign up today
  • Share your up-to-date contact information
  • Scan NZ COVID Tracer posters to keep track of where you’ve been
  • Ask your whānau, friends and workmates to join in

Don't have a smartphone?

You can still register online to share your latest contact information.

For more information, head to https://tracing.covid19.govt.nz

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