We have all been warned that our elderly loved ones are at heightened risk during the coronavirus pandemic. Not only are they weaker, but they may live in concentrated senior communities and have underlying health concerns. If you are a caregiver for someone in this high-risk population, here are some tips from Dr. Alicia Arbaje, who specializes in internal medicine and geriatrics at Johns Hopkins.
- Keep Yourself Well
Be sure to follow all the guidelines and precautions about social distancing, hand washing, and cleaning to keep yourself well.
- Limit In-Person Visits
It may be emotionally challenging but keeping in-person visits to a minimum is the best way to reduce the risk of infection. When you can’t be there in-person, use technology to stay in touch. Teach your older loved ones how to use video chat applications. Remember to add captions to your videos if they are hearing-impaired. Also, encourage others to telephone or send cards or notes as well.
- Be Creative About Home-Based Projects
Now may be a great time to encourage your loved ones to record their personal stories, organize family photos or reconnect with old friends online.
- Decide on a Plan
Discuss now your emergency response plan. Who will be the emergency contact? Do you know where the estate planning documents are and can you quickly access them, especially health care directives?
If you or your loved one do not have an updated will or trust and health care documents, please reach out to our office. We can help get planning in place quickly and easily and are even offering virtual meetings now to keep everyone safe.
What if your elder loved one starts to develop symptoms?
If you or your loved one learn that you might have been exposed to someone diagnosed with COVID-19 or if anyone in your household develops symptoms such as cough, fever or shortness of breath, call your family doctor, nurse helpline or urgent care facility. For a medical emergency such as severe shortness of breath or high fever, call 911.
Resource: Johns Hopkins Medicine, Coronavirus and COVID-19: Caregiving for the Elderly, https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/coronavirus-caregiving-for-the-elderly