Are you trying to keep your older patients safe during the COVID-19 crisis? Adding pandemic-related concerns to a professional caregiver’s burdens is just that much more to handle, and between that and normal questions and concerns, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Read on for some practical answers on navigating this challenging time.
COVID-19 Precautions and Preventive Measures
A top concern for many caregivers is how to best support their older patients in light of a pandemic. Since those over the age of 65 or with compromised health appear to be most vulnerable, it’s best to follow the guidelines outlined by the CDC. Stay aware of the common symptoms, like fever and a dry cough, encourage appropriate hand-cleaning strategies, and if you run errands for your patient or live with them, take precautions to avoid bringing the virus into the home.
Adjust the Home Environment
In addition to keeping the house as germ-free as possible, seniors often benefit from some aging-in-place modifications. If you haven’t already worked with your patient’s family to make some, consider a few alterations to help keep them safe. For example, clearing walkways of tripping and slipping hazards and moving commonly used kitchen items to safely reachable areas can help your patient avoid accidents and injuries.
A few bathroom modifications can also boost independence and safety. A taller toilet seat and grab bars help aging bodies maneuver, and a shower seat and wand showerhead can ease washing. LoveToKnow points out that costs involved will vary depending on how much you do. Expect small changes like grab bars and other supports to run $200 to $500, while a full remodel will run $7,000 to $10,000.
While some changes inevitably occur with the aging process, that doesn’t mean seniors can’t aim for optimal well-being. First of all, certain actions will help keep your patient’s immune system functioning well, like maintaining a healthy weight and giving up unhealthy habits like smoking. It’s also important they eat a nutritious diet and get routine vaccinations.
Exercise can also play an important role in immunity. What’s more, OrthoInfo explains growing older means muscles lose mass, joints become more stiff, we tire more easily, and our metabolism slows. Being sedentary exacerbates all that. There are some simple, everyday exercises that can help your patient better maintain their muscles and joints, like wall push-ups and standing on one foot. Another idea is to try something new, like tai chi, Wii games, or chair yoga.
Is Assisted Living on the Horizon?
If your patient is struggling with routine tasks, has experienced a run of in-home accidents, or is experiencing chronic severe illness even with your help in their daily living routine, they may be considering assisted living and asking for your input. While you may harbor concerns about COVID-19 spreading rapidly in a facility, AARP notes senior living communities are taking preventative measures to avoid that issue, so in general, families and caregivers can rest assured that their loved ones have an appropriately safe, senior-friendly environment.
One thing that holds many families back is the cost of any of these choices, as senior care is notoriously expensive. Many turn to selling their homes or using a reverse mortgage to pay for care. Keep in mind that the pandemic is affecting the housing market, so take a look at what area homes are going for before you go too far.
Knowing that those in your care are vulnerable to the still-spreading COVID-19 virus means being extra cautious. Take preemptive measures for yourself and your patient, and encourage them to keep up a healthy routine. Thanks to your thoughtful caregiving, you and your patient can get through this pandemic together.
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