It’s well known around the globe that older people are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. Studies have shown that adults 60 and over are more likely to suffer from either severe or deadly infections than other age groups. That’s especially the case for those with preexisting medical conditions.
So if you’re looking after an older relative, you might well be concerned. Here’s how to prevent the pandemic from adding to the workload when looking after a loved one.
Embrace Physical Distancing
An important way of reducing the risk of your loved one catching coronavirus is to reduce the number of in-person visits. Of course, the problem is that some older people might find it difficult to understand why family members who they cherish aren’t visiting.
When it comes to physical distancing, it doesn’t need to be about loneliness or isolation. While it’s important to maintain the safety of adults, it’s also important to know that social isolation can negatively impact older people’s mental health and immunity.
One way to counteract any feeling of isolation is to encourage your loved one to communicate with those outside of their family by acknowledging the mailman or by calling in on the neighbours (if there’s no restriction on that).
Help Them Stay Connected
To make your loved one feel less lonely, as well as feel involved and purposeful, consider the following:
- Encourage family and friends who don’t reside in your household to send cards, write notes, or telephone to provide a sense of care to your loved ones.
- Demonstrate to them how to chat with others on video using laptops, tablets or smartphones.
- For those hard of hearing, use apps that provide captions.
Keep Your Loved One Involved
You could also give your loved one something to do. You could involve them in looking through old memorabilia and photos, and organising them together. You could then both enjoy the happy memories and stories they bring to mind. Your loved one might also want to show off their cooking skills by preparing a meal for the family, or even share their favourite movies and songs from years gone by.
Reduce the Risk of Infection
Avoid travel. Older adults should postpone any travel plans not considered essential, especially trips or cruises with itineraries that would involve crowds.
Postpone non-essential doctor visits. If your loved one is feeling in good health, you could consider assisting them in postponing non-essential doctor visits, such as annual checkups and elective procedures.
Bear in mind that some older people, particularly those with chronic illness, value the relationships they have with their carers. To help them stay in communication, speak to their doctor’s office and ask if telemedicine is an option. This would allow your loved one to communicate with their doctor by a means either than in-person, such as email or video.
When applying any kind of senior care, you should take any necessary precautions available in a bid to prevent being infected. Here are a few basics.
- Frequently wash your hands for a minimum of 20 seconds using soap and water before or after preparing food, providing care, touching public surfaces, or using the bathroom.
- Don’t place your hands close to your face.
- Avoid crowds, and sneeze or cough into either a tissue or your elbow.
Make a Plan
If possible, involve your loved one in talks of how routine changes will be managed and what will occur should anyone in the family become sick. By having a plan in advance and making everyone aware of it, it can reduce stress and help to create a feeling of being prepared.
One thing to include in your plan is stocking up on supplies. Prepare medication (up to three months worth), along with 14 days worth of essentials, such as food, pet supplies, and over-the-counter medication. Look up the delivery services available in your area.
You should also decide on an emergency contact. If you’re the primary career, choose somebody who lives closely who you can depend on to care for your loved one should you fall ill.