The coronavirus, or “COVID-19”, pandemic has caused most Americans to rethink their priorities. For those families who are also caring for aging in place relatives, the coronavirus outbreak has created unique challenges when it comes to getting their loved ones the daily living assistance they need. To help prevent the virus’ spread, new personal hygiene and social distancing guidelines have been released by the CDC. If you’re an informal caregiver, here’s how to properly care for your elderly loved one until the coronavirus outbreak is over.
COVID-19 Challenges for Caregivers
Being a family caregiver can be stressful during the best of times, especially when you’re also holding down a job and managing a household. Add something like COVID-19 to the mix, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for caregiver burnout.
When it comes to caring for a senior, these are some of the additional challenges that informal caregivers now face due to the coronavirus outbreak:
- Preventing loneliness, anxiety and depression
- Stocking their home with enough food and other essential supplies
- Transporting them safely to medical appointments
- Feeling scared to be around them
- Keeping their medications refilled
To make matters worse, when caring for someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s, they are more likely to get agitated or even go into full-blown “panic mode” when faced with a routine-altering event like COVID-19.
Coronavirus Tips for Family Caregivers
Since your focus is maintaining your loved one’s quality of life, reassure them first that everything is going to be fine. Also let them know up front that it’s going to take some changes to their normal daily routine, and why those are necessary.
Then, devise a new care plan that includes these steps:
Follow CDC Guidelines
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have compiled several online resources that can answer your questions and address your COVID-19 concerns. Some of the current CDC coronavirus-prevention guidelines include:
- Avoid large gatherings of 10 or more persons
- Don’t travel outside unless it’s necessary, like medical appointments
- Wash your hands throughout the day for at least 20 seconds
- Stock up on essential supplies like food, drinking water and medicine
- Avoid person-to-person contact, especially with strangers
Watch for Symptoms
Persons over the age of 65 and those with underlying medical conditions like asthma, diabetes, heart disease and lung disease are at high risk, along with cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy. While around your loved one watch out for these coronavirus symptoms:
- Dry cough
- Coughing up sputum
- Nausea without vomiting
- Shortness of breath
- Sore throat
If they show any of these signs, don’t go to the ER right away. Instead, contact their physician immediately for further instructions.
Refill Their Meds
Due to supply shortages, some medications are getting harder to find. Make sure that you keep your senior’s prescriptions refilled and stock up on OTC pain relievers too. And, help your loved one stay compliant by creating an updated medication list complete with doctor and pharmacy contact numbers.
If your loved one has a medical appointment scheduled, call ahead to minimize possible exposure. Some healthcare facilities are now handling less-serious appointments via telemedicine, and insurance providers, including Medicare, are now expanding their coverage to include telemedicine services.
When you get tired don’t be afraid to reach out for support, starting with your siblings. Online caregiver support chatrooms are also a great way to stay connected and get valuable insights about caring for someone who’s at high risk to catch COVID-19. If you can’t find the help you need, look-into hiring a professional respite caregiver from a licensed home care agency.
Family Trusted In-Home Respite Care for Seniors
Caring for an aging loved one during the coronavirus outbreak can be very stressful and exhausting. If you need some time off, contact Family Services of Central Massachusetts. We are a fully licensed and insured home care agency that specializes in respite care, companion care, personal care and even 24-hour care services. Our compassionate caregivers are all carefully screened and highly trained beforehand, including how to comply with the latest COVID-19 CDC guidelines.
At Family Services of Central Massachusetts, we’ve perfected a home care formula that provides families with the support they need so their loved ones can keep on living right where they want to be. We believe in keeping seniors safe and comfortable to ensure that they enjoy a higher quality of life, dignity and independence. To learn more about Family Services of Central Massachusetts today, or to schedule a FREE initial consultation for a senior in our service area now, please visit us at: www.fscm.org.