COVID-19: Advice for older people and their family and whānau

What older people need to know to stay safe from COVID-19.

Last updated: 12 August 2020

As of midday Wednesday August 12 the Auckland region (Auckland Council area) is at Alert Level 3 for 3 days until midnight on Friday 14 August. The rest of New Zealand is at Alert Level 2. Find out more from the Unite Against COVID-19 website.

More information about health and disability services at Alert Levels 2 and 3 will be available soon.

The Ministry of Health and the Aged Care lead organisations have advised all aged residential care facilities for the next three days - until midnight Friday, to lock down their facilities, stop visitors for the next three days and limit staff to working at a single site. See also: Aged care providers.

​Older people (generally over 70 years old) may be more vulnerable to COVID-19, particularly if you have any underlying health issues. Information on this page is designed specifically for you, your family and whānau to know what guidelines to follow during Alert Level 1.

If you are a disability or aged care provider see Disability, aged care and hospice providers.

If you are looking for information for disabled people and their whānau see Information for disabled people and their family and whānau.

On this page:

Stay safe at Alert Level 1

At Alert Level 1, the risk of exposure to COVID-19 is very low. All businesses and services are open and there are no restrictions on your movement or limits on numbers for gatherings. It’s still a good idea to continue to be vigilant when out and about. People who are at higher risk with underlying health conditions are encouraged to take extra precautions when leaving home.

If you’re feeling unwell, stay at home. Call your doctor or Healthline on 0800 358 5453 to get advice on whether you should be tested for COVID-19.

Read more about COVID-19 and its symptoms and protecting yourself.

Good hygiene

Keep using basic hygiene measures such as washing your hands frequently or using hand sanitiser, cough or sneeze into your elbow and clean surfaces regularly. You may want to continue to maintain physical distance from others if you can. Distance between yourself and others can help reduce any future spread of COVID-19.

Record your movements

We are also asking people to keep a record of where you’ve been. If cases of COVID-19 are confirmed, this information may be needed to contact trace quickly and efficiently, and stop the spread.

There’s more information on the protecting yourself and others page.

Reaching out for help

You might still need to reach out to friends, family and neighbours for help, even under Alert Level 1. Many businesses may also be able to help with delivering items to you if you call them.

If you need a prescription, call your doctor and they will advise if you should pick it up from the pharmacy or it can be delivered to your doorstep.


If you are working and considered at risk of severe illness from COVID-19, talk to your employer. A risk assessment in your workplace should identify what the risk is for you and how it can be reduced.

Agree with your employer on what  you can do safely and consider taking extra precautions. Discuss with your employer whether you can work from home, or other ways to keep safe while at work or travelling to work. You should also speak to your friends, family or local GP to make sure you are safe.

Services in the health and disability system at Alert Level 1

Health and disability services will be running as normal under Alert Level 1 but some precautions will be in place to protect people who are vulnerable to severe COVID-19 from exposure to the virus.

Contact the health service you want to access to see what level of service you they can provide.

Find information on health and disability services available at Alert Level 1.

Aged residential care services

Aged residential care will operate as normal under Alert Level 1. Visiting policies will revert to what they were before the COVID-19 alert level system. The 14-day isolation for admissions is not required.

There will be risk screening at facilities with infection prevention controls, recording of people’s details for contact tracing purposes, and use of PPE.

All planned and urgent respite care previously provided is available.

More information is available in the COVID-19 Alert Level 1 guidance for aged residential care facilities.

Mental health and wellbeing resources

COVID-19 is having a significant impact on how we interact with others and go about our daily lives. We know that this, combined with the stress of uncertainty can have an impact on our mental wellbeing. For information and resources to support your mental health and wellbeing, see Mental health and wellbeing resources.

If you feel you are not coping, it is important to talk with a health professional. Call your regular health care provider or for support with grief, anxiety, distress or mental wellbeing, you can call or text 1737 – free, anytime, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – to talk with a trained counsellor.  

Caring for a person with dementia at home

If you or your whānau are caring for someone with dementia at home, information about ways to ensure you and the person with dementia can stay well can be found at Supporting a person with dementia at home.

If you or the person you are caring for require further support or information, contact your local Alzheimers or dementia organisation.

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