The coronavirus pandemic has been going longer than most of us had anticipated. People of all ages are affected. Life as we know it hasn’t been the same since. There is no traveling and partying in the meantime. It’s unsafe to go out so the children’s schooling is affected and most adults are working from home. However, our elderly face the greatest risk.
If you are a senior or if you are living with one, here’s how you can keep you and your loved ones safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Be Informed
It’s important to equip ourselves with knowledge in order to properly know what we are up against. According to the Centers for Disease control and prevention, the risk for severe illness increases with age. Those among the 85 or older group are at the greatest risk from COVID-19. The implications of severe illness, in this case, may be intensive care, requiring a ventilator to breathe, and the worst-case scenario is death.
Make sure to read up and stay updated on COVID-19 from credible sources only. There are many people who spread false information intentionally and unintentionally so it would be best to only trust verified data. The more you know, the more power you have because you will be able to come up with the best prevention practices to protect the elderly in our lives.
- Stay at Home
Unless there is an emergency, one should stay at home. Seniors can go on short walks provided they keep a safe distance from others. They should know that they need to avoid trips to the store, crowds, and any kind of gatherings. If you live with a senior, you should also avoid unnecessary trips to a store. Continue using drive-thrus and delivery services. From groceries to medicines, all essential goods can be delivered to your home. If you have a senior neighbor, you can offer to order their groceries for them or teach them how to use these apps so they can order on their own.
If you are afraid of your parents who live with you contacting covid from the members of your family that are going out regularly, or parents who live on their own having to go out too often and come in contact with multiple people, increasing the risk of covid, you might want to consider having them live in an independent senior living community. In such an environment, it is likely that your parents will be less likely to come across carriers of covid. And with the staff handling the responsibilities of groceries your parents might need, and being able to assist your parents with other tasks or errands they might need help with, it will additionally lift a huge weight off your shoulders.
There are also various virtual services offered now so people don’t need to go out. These will be helpful for them. Some examples are video conferences to catch up with friends and family and virtual medical care.
- Reduce Risk
The elderly as well as those who live with them and are in close contact with them should protect themselves from COVID-19. There’s no way to eliminate the risk 100% but there are steps we can follow in order to minimize the risk of more long term health conditions.
Practice health guidelines and always wear a mask when outside or talking to a visitor. Have a mask ready for any interaction with others. Should you need to interact with others, ensure that there is limited contact and keep it short.
Another one is to physically distance yourself from others. Keep a distance of 1 to 2 meters from other people.
Always wash your hands after touching items and surfaces or before touching your face. If you can’t wash your hands, use rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer.
Aside from practicing personal hygiene, our surroundings should also be kept clean and disinfected too. Disinfect floors and frequently touched surfaces like tables and counters, faucets, light switches, phones, and remote controls.
- Establish Rules
If you are taking care of the elderly, it is only understandable that you go above and beyond to keep them safe. Since restrictions have loosened up over the course of the year, you should have a set of rules for the household.
You may keep the gatherings and visitations outside by the yard. It’s open-air and people can easily maintain distance from each other. If you choose to let visitors enter your home, you can ask them to take off their shoes, wash their hands, and wear a mask when they enter. Avoid potlucks and buffet-style set ups. Sharing food is very risky. Disinfect the house once guests leave.
- Develop an Emergency Plan
It is always better to be prepared no matter what happens. Develop an emergency plan with useful information and instructions for any possible scenario you may face.
Create a list of emergency numbers such as your local COVID-19 hotline, nearest hospital, and other contacts you may need in case of an emergency. Include family members and friends.
Create a care plan with the elderly’s medical conditions, medicines, healthcare provider, and end of life options.
List the steps that you will need to do if anyone in the household tests positive for COVID-19. Assign an isolation room at home or in your community. Identify a proxy to take over your caregiving responsibilities. As much as possible, this should be someone that your senior family member trusts and is comfortable with.
- Mental health
One cannot help but feel anxious and stressed during these trying times and seniors are not an exemption. Look after your own and everyone else’s mental and emotional well-being. Incorporate light exercises and meditation into a daily routine. Do fun activities and start a hobby with them to keep them occupied. Stay connected with family and friends by doing calls and video calls frequently. Just because we can’t be together physically, doesn’t mean we should be out of reach.