According to data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), eight out of 10 coronavirus-related (COVID-19) deaths reported in the United States have been adults 65 years of age and older. The statistics don’t lie; older adults are at higher risk of developing serious complications from COVID-19, making it imperative that family members, friends, and caregivers take extra precaution when in close contact with an elderly loved one. However, this task is not without its challenges, especially for caretakers who need to operate at close proximity to provide the level of geriatric care that their dependents require—and for family members, too, as they check in and provide care for a senior parent.
So how can you care for your senior loved ones without putting them at greater risk for COVID-19? Fortunately, there are many strategies that you can implement into your own and your loved one’s routines that can help minimize risk for COVID-19 transmittance. In this article, we’ll help you establish a baseline for practicing these strategies so that you can continue to provide care for your elderly loved ones without fear of COVID-19 exposure.
Start By Limiting Your Own Risk for COVID-19
If coronavirus (COVID-19) is anything, it’s extremely contagious. And, as it’s easily transmitted from person to person via respiratory droplets, everyone should be taking precautions when venturing into public settings. This is especially true for caretakers, particularly if their dependents are at high risk. By becoming more aware of your own surroundings and interactions during the pandemic, you can limit your exposure to the virus and lessen the risk factor for those you care for. Here are the precautions and guidelines that the CDC highly suggests caregivers follow during the pandemic:
- Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. This is especially important before and after administering care to your loved ones, prepping food, using the restroom, and after touching public surfaces. Tip: hum the “Happy Birthday” song two times as a timer.
- Avoid crowds and public settings. If at all possible, avoid public settings. This will limit your exposure to the virus and keep your high-risk elderly loved one safe when in contact. Maintaining a 6-foot distance when visiting and wearing a cloth face covering are also encouraged by the CDC to prevent exposure on the off chance that you have been exposed COVID-19.
- Clean/disinfect surfaces in your home and the home of the senior you’re caring for regularly. This includes kitchen counters, tables, doorknobs, etc. as well as mobility and medical equipment used by your elderly loved one, such as walkers, canes, and handrails.
Practice Physical Distancing, But Understand the Risks of Isolation
During the COVID-19 crisis, social distancing has become a defining movement in support of minimizing exposure to the virus and keeping at-risk individuals safe. When it comes to caring for elderly family members, restricting and limiting in-person visitations is just as important. However, this isolation has also been shown to pose psychological risks for seniors. Caring for your senior parents without putting them at risk for COVID-19 or the psychological risk factors linked to social isolation may seem tricky, but there are ways to strike a healthy balance. Here’s how:
- Help them set up virtual communication platforms. During the pandemic, technology has become a saving grace for preserving human interaction in a virtual setting. For older adults, navigating this tech can be a little tricky, but by providing them with the instructions they need, you can help them maintain contact without in-person interaction.
- Schedule a virtual visitation into their routines. Establishing routines in your senior parents’ day can help you monitor their needs without relying on in-person interaction. Use this time to check on their grocery/house essential needs, monitor medical conditions/symptoms, and spend some quality time with them.
- Postpone unnecessary doctor visitations. Encouraging your elderly parents to postpone their routine doctor visitations will keep them safe from germ-infested waiting rooms and limit potential exposure to COVID-19. In those situations where medical attention is dire, seeking healthcare alternatives—like telehealth and in-home healthcare—is the safer route.
DispatchHealth Has Taken In-Home Healthcare to the Next Level
Whether your elderly loved one is in need of prompt medical attention or has displayed COVID-19 symptoms, DispatchHealth is prepared to offer the at-home medical care that they need. Instead of requiring patients to take a trip to the nearest ER for their health concerns, our dependable medical teams will arrive at your place of need within a few hours of contact prepared with most of the equipment and technologies found at an ER. We specialize in addressing acute medical conditions, and during the COVID-19 crisis, have gone the extra mile to ensure the safety of both our staff and patients. How? We’ve implemented disinfection protocols before, during, and after each patient visit and provided our medical teams with protective equipment. What’s more, we’re now able to test for COVID-19 as well as treat and support COVID-19 patients.
DispatchHealth relies only on authoritative sources, including medical associations, research institutions, and peer-reviewed medical studies.
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