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In their own words: Supporting older people through the pandemic in Indonesia

Our partner on the ground in Central Sulawesi, YEU, has been working to support older people in a number of ways as part of its coronavirus (COVID-19) response. The government there has asked people to stay home wherever possible, wear masks and maintain social distancing in order to fight the virus. Some activities have continued out of necessity, such as trading at markets, but prices of many commodities have increased.

Throughout the pandemic, YEU has been working hard to help older people. The staff there told us about their experiences and what happens when their mobile health clinic visits an older patient at home.

YEU staff member Zahra distributing food
Supporting older people during the pandemic

Zahra, 23 years old, is one of the staff from our partner, YEU, in Central Sulawesi. She expressed some concerns about dealing with the pandemic, such as the uncertainty as to when it will end, and the possibility of catching the virus. She told us that older people, as one of the groups most vulnerable to the virus, are also worried, particularly those with increased risk such as those with chronic diseases like diabetes and heart conditions. But they are protecting themselves by maintaining physical distance, using masks, washing hands with soap, avoiding crowds, and staying home as much as possible.

YEU has already distributed food, installed sinks in public places, and set up mobile clinic services in five villages as part of its COVID-19 response. Zahra said that the team delivering these did experience challenges, including dealing with conflicts in the community. They had to explain that older people were prioritised in the response because they are at increased risk. The team also had to make a special effort to ensure good hygiene was maintained constantly, to minimize the risk of infecting or being infected.

Zahra feels that working to help older people and vulnerable groups is a very valuable and satisfying experience, especially when she can see beneficiaries smile after getting help. She offered her thanks to Age International for providing assistance and caring for older people in Central Sulawesi, which she says has been very beneficial.

Mr Alimin waits for the Mobile Clinic team
Mr Alimin’s home care visit

65-year-old Mr Alimin was the first patient visited by the YEU’s Mobile Clinic team on 16 May, 2020. They visited him at his home, and when the team was about to get out of the car, Mr. Alimin was already sitting on his terrace ready for an examination from the doctor.

During the examination, the doctor used protective equipment such as gloves, jackets, and masks to avoid passing on or catching an infection. The doctor began the examination by checking his blood pressure and asking how Mr. Alimin feels. Then he gave the necessary drugs and vitamins.

Mr. Alimin said that he had obtained information related to COVID-19 via radio. He tries to follow what he learned about COVID-19 on the radio, and is taking precautions, such as using masks, washing his hands with soap, maintaining good hygiene, and trying to stay at home.

Before the pandemic, Mr. Alimin usually did farming, but this is being done by his child instead for now. Mr. Alimin has received food supplies, as well as the mobile clinic services, which he says is quite helpful. He said he had never before experienced a pandemic or situation like this, which affect the community’s ability to be able to gather and carry out their usual activities. But he expressed his gratitude for the donations that have been given and thanked us for the attention that has been given to older people.

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Last updated: Jul 14 2020

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