Social isolation measures intended to save lives during the coronavirus pandemic are taking their toll on Rotorua's senior citizens.
Age Concern Rotorua's volunteers have had to stop doing in-home visits and are catching up with members over the phone instead.
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The accredited visiting service aims to stop the elderly feeling socially isolated, but physical social isolation is recommended to keep Covid-19 at bay.
Age Concern Rotorua has also had to postpone its Positive Ageing Expo, originally planned for March 29.
Manager Rory O'Rourke said many members were already in self-isolation and the organisation wanted to keep them safe.
"One of the main concerns is shopping. Normally our volunteers can pick up people, take them to the supermarket to do their shopping, take them home and unpack their groceries.
"So we are now trying to get people to use our online shopping service a lot more or volunteers are taking down lists over the phone. We are happy for people to phone us... not everyone has got Wi-Fi."
Members are being encouraged to get debit card systems set up to help them use the Age Concern shopping service.
"We would love it people would if people would identify the elderly in their street and see if they could support them in some way by doing their shopping for them. We've already had two or three people phone in and say that they're quite happy to do that."
Loneliness was already a concern for elderly people before isolation and social distancing became part of New Zealand's new Covid-19 normal.
There were 20 confirmed cases in the country as of Wednesday, including eight new yesterday, though none in Rotorua and the Government has said there was no evidence of a community outbreak. Thousands have died overseas with over 60s particularly vulnerable.
Lakes District Health Board data collected in 2017 showed 25 per cent of elderly at home in the Lakes DHB area felt lonely, slightly up on 22 per cent nationally.
Rotorua 86-year-old Jill Betschart has convened a weekly Mahjong group for 10 years and all of the players are senior citizens.
"I am concerned about my group on Fridays ... we are using the same tiles ... but we have been taking procedures like wiping everything with disinfectants," she told the Rotorua Daily Post.
"I'd rather not go - not run it - than have us at risk of someone coming, in bringing in the virus. Even the flu is a risk, as we are coming into the winter."
She plays at a community centre outside of the retirement village she lives in, so feels lucky to have "independence outside of the village".
"No meetings are happening in the village community building now and that's going to affect a lot of people who are dependent on those activities daily."
She said she was washing her hands "all the time" and stocking up on her medications.
Rosie Graham, co-owner of Driving Miss Daisy Rotorua, said the franchise had always had strict hygiene policies.
"We always keep hand sanitiser and disinfectant wipes in our cars and we always clean our cars between clients - any surfaces that people may touch ... to make sure they are free of germs."
She said it wasn't yet clear whether she and husband Bruce would be seeing more elderly clients or fewer, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The service runs errands for those that don't want to go out or cannot go out.
But it also provides much-needed social time for elderly people in Rotorua.
"Some of our clients - we are the only people they see if they don't have family ... So we don't want to break that. We want to keep the relationship going so that they have someone to talk to."
She echoed O'Rourke's calls for younger generations to check on their elders in their neighbourhood.
She suggested leaving a note on someone's doorstep or letterbox, with a number.
"Say hello and ask them if there's anything they need help with. Don't treat them like they're unintelligent or they don't know what's going on, because they do know."
Ideas for beating self-isolation cabin fever
Caring for pets
Kapa haka and dance
Painting and drawing
Learning a language
Learning whakapapa and genealogy
Phone and video calls
Going for short drives
Walking, running and gardening with appropriate social distancing
Doing home repairs