National advice hotline 1800 020 080
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National advice hotline 1800 020 080 For information on coronavirus (COVID-19) call the hotline - open 24 hours, 7 days.

Elderly care

The risk of serious illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) increases with age.

To protect older Australians and those with compromised immune systems, we all need to work together to help stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

We also need to be particularly sensitive with people living with dementia or where there is a limited capacity to communicate verbally or express pain and discomfort.

Their ability to follow instruction or to alert others about potential symptoms may be challenging. In this situation, observation by someone who knows the person may assist in identifying changes in their health.

Staying safe

Everyone has a responsibility to take steps to prevent the spread of this virus.

Good hygiene and taking care when interacting with other people are the best defences against coronavirus (COVID-19).

This includes:

  • covering your coughs and sneezes with your elbow or a tissue
  • disposing of tissues immediately after use into a dedicated waste bin and washing your hands
  • washing your hands often with soap and water, including before and after eating and after going to the toilet, and when you have been out to shops or other places
  • using alcohol-based hand sanitisers
  • cleaning and disinfecting surfaces you have touched
  • where possible, staying 1.5 metres away from other people - an example of “physical distancing”
  • if you are sick, avoiding contact with others.

If you start to feel unwell, call your GP, who will be able to provide you with further advice, or call the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080.

You can seek medical support from your GP through bulk-billed telehealth (videolink) and telephone services if you:

  • are aged over 70 or
  • are aged over 50 and are an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person or
  • have a chronic health condition.

Examples of possible video applications include FaceTime and Skype.

Medical practitioners must be satisfied that the services they use to video link with their patients meet current standards and laws regarding privacy and information security.

Download the COVIDSafe app to your smartphone for the times you do need to go out and remember to turn the Bluetooth on.

The Older Persons COVID-19 Support Line

Senior Australians, their families and carers can call the Older Persons COVID-19 Support Line if they:

  • would like to talk with someone about the COVID-19 restrictions and the impact on them
  • are feeling lonely or are worried about a loved one
  • are caring for someone and need some information or a listening ear
  • need help or advice about changing the aged care services they are currently receiving
  • need help to access new care services or essential supplies such as shopping
  • are concerned about a friend or family member living with dementia

Call 1800 171 866.

Can I go to the shops or catch the bus, or should I stay in my own home?

The Australian Government is advising everyone to practise “physical distancing”, which means less contact between you and other people to help slow the spread of the disease.

If you are over 60 years old, you should consider limiting physical contact with other people, especially young children, and avoiding large groups of people.

It is fine to go to the bus or to use public transport, keeping in mind physical distancing and hygiene advice.

Are other vaccinations important?

It is very important that you reduce your risk of getting other illnesses while coronavirus (COVID-19) remains in our community.

There is no vaccine for coronavirus (COVID-19). However, it is important that you get the 2020 flu vaccination from your GP or pharmacy, as soon as possible.

Discuss with your doctor whether you should have a pneumococcal vaccination against pneumonia, which is recommended for everyone over 65. You should also discuss having a shingles vaccination.

What if I need urgent assistance that can't be provided by my current carer?

You can access short term home support services (such as meals or personal care) in an emergency without having had an aged care assessment.

Assessments can also be conducted using telehealth rather than face-to-face where appropriate.

Speak with your home care provider about these measures.

Find out how you can access health support from home

Can I still have contact with friends and family?

The Australian Government is advising everyone to practise “physical distancing”, which means less contact between you and other people to help slow the spread of the disease.

If you are over 60 years old, you should consider limiting physical contact with other people.

You may wish to limit your visitors to one or two people per day, and limit the duration of visits.

This will help protect you and help stop the spread of disease.

It’s possible that children and young people may be carriers of coronavirus (COVID-19) but show no symptoms, making it extremely difficult to tell if it’s safe for them to visit an older relative.

These measures may be very distressing for you and your loved ones.

A chat over the phone, video call or email - rather than visits in person – is a good precaution and could help stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Should I continue to visit older friends and relatives?

It is important to keep up-to-date with and follow Australian Government advice. For the latest advice and information, go to the Australian Government's Department of Health website.

Regularly check in with older friends or relatives, and see how you might help.

A simple trip to the supermarket or pharmacy on their behalf is a practical way to help older people who may not be able to go on their own.

Continued and regular communication will be important. Assist older people to keep in communication with friends and family by enabling them to use mobile phones, video call systems such as Skype or FaceTime or through social media channels. If visiting older family and friends is not possible, keep in touch via phone and video calls, send postcards, photos or artwork, or film short videos to share.

If you regularly visit someone living with a cognitive impairment, considering other ways of maintaining social contact will help reassure individuals who may feel anxious about possible changes to their day to day life.

You can also contact the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500.

Should I be wearing a mask?

Wearing a mask is not a requirement in the Northern Territory at this time. In general, if you are well, you do not need to wear a face mask. Many people are now choosing to wear a mask as an added precaution.

As we are seeing interstate, wearing a mask can help protect you and those around you if you are in an area with community transmission, and physical distancing is not possible, like on public transport.

While a mask can be used as an extra precaution, you must continue to:

  • stay at home if unwell
  • maintain physical distance (more than 1.5m) from other people when out
  • avoid large gatherings and crowded indoor spaces
  • practise hand and respiratory hygiene.

Can I get help if I can’t buy things at my local shops?

The Australian Government has worked with a number of grocery suppliers, including Coles and Woolworths, on priority access to their online and telephone shopping service for older and vulnerable people.

If you are registered with My Aged Care, you can provide your My Aged Care ID number either through the online form or over the phone to access priority delivery. If you are not registered with My Aged Care and you are aged 65 years or over, you can call My Aged Care on 1800 200 422 to register.

Your doctor may be able to arrange to have your prescriptions sent to your pharmacy directly so you can stay at home. For more information on whether you can access this service please call your pharmacy and speak to them about the best way to arrange this.

I received an email/ SMS / phone call about COVID-19 from someone I don’t trust – is it a scam?

Unfortunately, there have been many reports of scams related to coronavirus (COVID-19).

For the most accurate and up-to-date information on coronavirus (COVID-19), please rely on Australian Government material.

If you receive communication that you think may be a scam, you should:

  • hang up the phone
  • delete the messages
  • do not open any attachments
  • do not click on any links.

If you think someone may have accessed your financial information, contact your bank immediately.

For the most up-to-date information on scams in Australia, go to the Stay Smart Online website or call 1300 292 371.

More information

  • If you have concerns about your health, speak to your doctor
  • For the latest advice, information and resources, go to the Australian Government's Department of Health website or healthdirect website
  • Call the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080 - available 24 hours a day, seven days a week
  • For telehealth information in the NT, go to the NT Telehealth website
  • For translating or interpreting services, call 131 450
  • Contact COTA NT
  • The Older Persons COVID-19 Support Line provides information and support for Older Australians, their relatives, carers, friends or supporters on 1800 171 866
  • In an emergency call 000