The novel coronavirus pandemic presents a potentially life-threatening risk to seniors, if they get infected. The CDC has advised that individuals above the age of 80 with serious illnesses are at the highest risk and should take extra precautions. Family members of the elderly can play a vital role in this developing situation, and help their loved ones deal with COVID-19 restrictions in a caring and compassionate manner.
Seniors in a Residential Long-Term Care Facility
In response to the coronavirus threat to nursing homes, assisted living facilities and life care centers across the country are now adopting new staffing procedures and announcing visitor restrictions.
Make Inquiries with the Staff
If your loved one is under care at one of these facilities, you should inquire with their admin staff about the steps they are taking to protect elderly residents. The CDC has recommended that long-term care facilities should have staff that is dedicated to caring for patients who are found to be COVID-19 positive. The staff must also be trained to evaluate the respiratory health of new and existing residents.
Make Virtual Communication with Loved Ones
Coronavirus related nursing home restrictions do not mean that there are restrictions on communication. You and other family members and friends of your loved one should make use of Skype, FaceTime, WhatsApp, email or a good old-fashioned phone call to stay in regular touch with them, and periodically check on their health and well-being.
Avoid Moving Patients to Home
The CDC has advised people against the idea of moving the elderly who are at nursing homes or other long-term care facilities into their homes with the objective of protecting them against potential exposure to the viral infection. These seniors likely require professional care, and it may do more harm than good to move them home in the prevailing situation.
Seniors at Home
If your elderly loved one is at home, your first concern should be to observe extra precautions yourself, as a caregiver, to minimize the risk of exposure for a senior. Make sure that you and your family have a backup plan if the designated caregiver gets sick.
Also, plan to maintain at least two weeks or more of medications and supplies for your elderly member at home. Advance planning and communication among family members will help reduce anxiety and panic.
Explain to Seniors about Social Distancing
In addition to following all the necessary guidelines about personal hygiene and a sanitized environment at home, make sure you explain to your elderly loved one about practicing social distancing and avoiding crowds. It is vital that seniors understand the importance of minimizing visits from family members and friends.
Scheduled Health Checkups for the Elderly
Is it wise to have a senior visit the hospital for a scheduled health checkup that is coming up? The answer could vary according to your location and the status of the community spread of the coronavirus infection in your area.
The best way would be to call the senior’s physician ahead of the checkup and seek their advice. In many cases, the doctor could help through telehealth so that your elderly member’s visit to the hospital can be avoided.
Stay Positive and Keep the Spirits High
Whether your elderly family member is at home or is a resident of a long-term care facility, you can help them emotionally by maintaining regular communication and boosting their spirits and morale. Love, compassion, and an optimistic attitude of family members is the best medicine for seniors when no other medication seems to work.