With the spread of coronavirus across the globe, many are worried about the health and safety of our most vulnerable populations. The elderly, immune-compromised, and sick individuals are vulnerable to severe illness from contracting COVID-19, which has many concerned with how to support and provide care for the elderly during a pandemic.
If you are providing care for, or living in close-proximity with, an elderly person, you want to take all the necessary precautions to keep yourself and that person safe. Keep the following tips from John Hopkins Medicine in mind:
Spending Time with & Providing Care for the Elderly During COVID-19
Follow CDC Guidelines
The CDC updates its health and safety guidelines frequently to help Americans stay safe and avoid getting infected. Some of these guidelines include frequent handwashing, sneeze or cough into tissue or elbow of arm, regularly clean and disinfect commonly touched areas, social distancing, and covering face and nose when in public. To see all the CDC guidelines, follow this link.
Minimize the Risk
If you find yourself regularly around elderly and high-risk populations, it is a great idea to try to minimize your risk of infection as much as possible. Avoid unnecessary travel. Only go in public when in need of essential items. Postpone unnecessary doctor visits or find out if they offer telehealth services for both you and the elderly person.
Social Distance but Don’t Social Isolate
This tip is essential for older adults living alone or who cherish time spent with friends or family. Social distancing helps to keep them safe, but social isolation can have severe negative impacts on their mental and physical wellbeing. Take the time to check in, even if it’s by the phone, and limit in-person visits to only one person at a time visiting from a safe distance (6 feet). For older adults who are spiritual, time away from their religious setting might be unsettling. Check for other options that they might be able to do during this time.
Technology is not easy for everyone, and this can be especially true for our elderly population. However, the power of technology gives us more ability to connect today than ever before. Take some time to teach an elderly person how to use video chat on a smartphone or computer. Download apps on these devices that provide options for adults who are hard of hearing or have difficulty seeing. Look for options that can help an elderly person stay connected easily, such as online religious meetings, family video chats, telehealth, etc. If new technology doesn’t work well, remember that you can always pick up the phone to check in or mail a card to say hi.
If You Think You’re Exposed, Stay Away
Self-quarantining is the best course of action for individuals who may have been exposed to COVID-19. If you begin to develop symptoms, such as fever and difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider for medical advice. Follow this link to access the CDC’s symptoms, testing, and self-checker tool.
Frequently Asked Questions
COVID-19 is an unprecedented event in our history. As such, many people are struggling, and many others are wondering what the right courses of action are. Let’s touch on a couple of the most frequently asked questions in regards to caring for the elderly:
Is it risky to volunteer to deliver supplies to vulnerable people?
- Any contact with a potentially infected person is risky. However, there are ways to mitigate risk. Three Square has established a Coronavirus Emergency Food Fund and developed ways to deliver the food with little to no physical contact. For families, the ideal option would be for one person to deliver all essentials to an elderly family member. In many cases, the elderly person simply does not have another option and relies on the volunteer efforts of others. For this reason alone, it’s essential to develop safe volunteer methods as we battle this virus.
Can I visit my grandma or grandpa?
- This is a tough question to answer. It’s difficult to tell people to not visit their elderly loved ones, and we would never want to encourage something the leads to social isolation. However, social distancing can lower the number of people who get infected, get sick, and ultimately die. Data suggests that COVID-19 can cause severe illness in people who are age 60 and older, 50-60-year old’s who have serious chronic conditions, and immune-compromised individuals. To avoid causing unnecessary harm to our elderly loved ones, it’s best that we remain socially distanced until it is safe to visit. Even if you are not sick, you could be asymptomatic but still contagious. Of course, there are always exceptions for elderly loved ones who are very frail or will not live much longer and require physical interaction.
As we continue to navigate this difficult time together, remember that the team at Michaelson & Associates is here to help. Please give us a call at 702-731-2333 if you have questions or concerns regarding Guardianship, Probate, Power of Attorney, and Estate Planning during the Coronavirus.