Thankfully, most people who get ill with Covid are able to recover at home – but being unwell and having to isolate can still be horrible, whatever your circumstances.
For single folks living alone, in some ways navigating aspects of catching the virus might be easier (at least you don’t have to worry about passing it on to anyone, each time you use the bathroom!).
In other ways though, for some, there might be extra layers of anxiety that creep in: who’s going to fetch your shopping? Would anyone notice if you got really sick?
So here’s how to support single friends living alone with Covid…
Checking in means a lot
“In terms of how loved ones can help, absolutely checking in,” says chartered psychologist Dr. Meg Arroll.
They may not have the energy to respond to every message right away, but those simple check-ins can really mean a lot when someone’s stuck indoors alone and feeling rubbish.
If you are somebody’s prime checking-in person, Arroll suggests making sure it’s regular.
“I do think having some sort of schedule is incredibly helpful because it’s really about helping to create a sense of control and predictability with managing something that is very outside of our control,” she says. “That level of uncertainty causes a lot of anxiety.
“So you could say to them, ‘I’m going to check in three times a day at these times, every day’. They can then rely on that. You can schedule an alert on your phone so you don’t forget.”
Ask if they want to chat
There’s a lot to be said for a well-timed WhatsApp or text, and an impeccably chosen meme never hurts. A chat on the phone can be a real tonic though – if they’re up for it.
“Sometimes people won’t want to talk if they’re feeling unwell, but they’ll know they’re getting a text and can then perhaps talk later,” says Arroll.
“And even if you’re in the acute stage of Covid, you can have one day where you don’t feel too poorly and then the next day you might feel very poorly again.”
Regular phone calls can be especially important if somebody is very unwell or has reason to be more concerned about the possibility of getting sicker with the virus – as it means you can help keep track of how they’re sounding.
Ask how they’re doing in general
Sometimes, 10 days isolating alone might not be too bad. Other times, it might all start to feel very overwhelming and lonely, and being unwell can be an anxious time for many people.
As Arroll points out, when we are physically sick, our emotions can be affected – it’s normal to feel very low and out of sorts.
Asking how they’re feeling in general and offering some kind reassurance if that’s what they need, might be very appreciated.
Send a care package
In terms of supporting them on a practical level, “definitely a care package”, says Arroll. “And not just food, but put in some comfy things, get the nice, lovely warm soft socks and things like that.
Think about your five senses and how you could integrate that within a care package.”
There are so many ways to send care packages – or other thoughtful gestures – these days, from ordering them a takeaway or letterbox delivery of flowers or cake.
If your budget is tight, you don’t need to spend above your means. Some of their favourite sweet treats, or even a Spotify playlist could be really nice.
If you’re close by, a doorstep drop of essential groceries or a prepared dinner or two could be really helpful, and offer to pick up any medicines or supplies they might need if you’re able to.