It has been a couple of months since the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted everything in our lives, from the economy to our health status. It has inflicted so much fear and uncertainty that people have practically stopped moving. It seems like people have given up counting as the numbers of daily confirmed COVID-19 cases continue climbing upwards. From the get go, the pandemic has changed our routines, and has especially impacted the daily lives of our elderly citizens. It has been challenging for them to stay home because COVID-19 is not only disproportionately affecting their physical health but also has negative impacts on their psyche. If you are a family member or caregiver who is looking after the needs of the elderly, you are instrumental in maintaining their health, as well as yours.
With this in mind, what are some things that you can do to keep the elderly safe during this pandemic?
KEEP YOURSELF AND YOUR ELDERLY WELL
It is important to continue reiterating the basics about keeping yourself healthy. We must continue washing our hands properly, avoiding crowds, observing coughing etiquette, avoiding touching your face, and frequently disinfecting high-touch areas. When you are caring for an elderly person, this needs to be more strictly enforced especially when he/she has medical conditions that inhibit the body’s immune system. Your focus should be directed toward preventive care during these times since they belong to the high-risk category of individuals who can easily contract and be impacted by the infection.
MINIMIZE THE RISK OF INFECTION
The most important thing you must keep in mind to minimize risk is to limit the amount of doctor’s visits. If an older adult in your care is feeling well, consider postponing their elective procedures, annual checkups, and other non-essential doctor visits.
Many older people, especially those living with chronic illness, have important relationships with their caregivers. To help them safely stay in touch, ask their doctors’ offices if they offer telemedicine, which enables doctors and patients to communicate over the video, email, or other means rather than face-to-face contact.
PRACTICE PHYSICAL DISTANCING
Elderly people love paying a visit to relatives and friends, but for now, we must cancel those plans regardless if you’re staying in low-risk COVID-19 areas. Physical distancing may be tough for older adults who cherish time spent with friends and family members. We need to keep older adults safe, but also keep in mind that social isolation can do harm to mental health. Many people understandably equate physical distancing to social isolation. However, they are not necessarily one in the same. Medical experts state that physical distancing does not have to mean isolation or loneliness. Consider setting up electronic meetings with family and friends via online platforms, or simply sending them a smile and a wave through the living room window.
STAY CONNECTED THROUGH TECHNOLOGY
The elderly can stay active at home by communicating online with their family and friends. After teaching them how to use FaceTime, Zoom, and other applications, they will feel involved, purposeful, and less lonely during the pandemic. Some apps even provide captions for adults with hearing challenges. If their relatives or friends live close by- encourage them to FaceTime, telephone, write notes or send cards to lift your loved one’s spirits.
Talking things through and making plans ahead of time as a family can reduce stress and help everyone feel more involved and prepared in their care. Stock up on one to three months of medications, at least two weeks worth of food, over-the-counter remedies, pet supplies, and other essentials. Find out which grocery delivery services are available in your area. You also must consider some worst-case scenarios. What will you do if you get infected and you are caring for the elderly? If you are the main caregiver, designate someone nearby who you can trust to care for your elderly family member if you become ill.