Caregiving for the Elderly during the COVID-19 Pandemic

As most of you know, COVID-19 is a virus that is especially vulnerable for the elderly to get and lead to a severe illness. Those with preexisting conditions, like heart disease, diabetes, or cancer are more likely to have a worse case of the Coronavirus than any other age group.

There are approximately four million adults who do not live in assisted facilities, but receive personal care. Many of these adults depend on a caregiver for their day-to-day existence.

During this time of isolation and social distancing, many people have found their role as caregiver for their elderly loved one is still an essential part of their life. Caregivers need to quickly adapt if they wish to remain safe during this epidemic. We have some suggestions and tips for caregivers during this unprecedented time.

  • Take care of yourself – The first and basic thing of being a caregiver is taking care of yourself first. You need to take all the necessary steps to avoid becoming infected.
  • Avoid crowds and practice social distancing
  • Do not touch your face
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. You should wash your hands before and after your provide care, use the restroom, or while preparing food.
  • Be socially and physically distant – You need to limit any and all in-person visits. A great strategy is to shelter in place. Avoid places where people congregate, especially health care facilities.
  • Help others with technology – As you practice social distancing, remember to find ways to still connect with others. If possible, help those whom your take care of have a way to use modern technology to stay connected to the outside world. It may take some extra work on your part to set up or explain, but show them how to video chat using a smartphone or laptop. Take the necessary step to ensure that the device is properly sanitized before they use it each time. There are apps available to help provide captions for those with difficulty in hearing.
  • Help encourage them – Ask family and friends outside of their home to write notes or call them to make sure that they are not lonely.
  • Postpone doctor appointments – Help them postpone any and all elective procedures, annual checkups and anything else that is non-essential at this time.  Many medical facilities are offering a way to communicate through video or email, instead of face-to-face.
  • Make a plan – In these times of unknown, it is wise to discuss ahead of time who can take care of them if you become ill. Also plan to schedule deliveries. Be sure to think ahead of their medications and food and supplies. Many companies offer delivery services so that you do not have to go out for groceries or medications. It is suggested to have a three-month supply of all chronic medicines. Remember to include nutritional supplements and disposable undergarments, if needed for those you care for.

If you or a loved one develops symptoms, such as shortness of breath, fevers or cough, contact your doctor or urgent care facility immediately. For a medical emergency, such as severe shortness of breath or high fever, please call 911.

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