Expert: Check on senior citizens, but from a safe distance

12 on 12: Vaccine 101

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — As we practice social distancing to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, it’s crucial to regularly check on the more vulnerable members of the population.

Dr. Gerrit van Schalkwyk, a child and adolescent psychiatrist and chief of the Adolescent Unit at Butler Hospital in Providence, says there are ways to care for elderly friends and family members while maintaining a safe distance. He recommends creating a plan and making sure they have food and other necessities.

“Make sure their medication is in good supply and their basic household needs are being met. That should continue to happen,” he said.

Dr. Tanuja Gandhi, a psychiatrist at Bradley Hospital, stressed the importance of keeping the lines of communication open while limiting face-to-face interactions.

“You could be FaceTiming a lot more, talking to them over the phone, and basically making sure they know that people are there looking out for them, people who love them,” she explained.

Dr. Gandhi says it may be lonely and seem difficult to be cheerful right now, but she hopes everyone stays optimistic.

“Though it is temporary and might be short-lived, we are changing the way we are doing things to make sure we’re a part of the larger community and we keep everyone safe,” she said.

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