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Learning on the Job: Home Care in the Age of COVID-19

Caregiver with mask

COVID-19 is impacting almost every aspect of our lives. Even a healthy person needs to take extra care of themselves to avoid getting sick during this pandemic. It comes as no surprise that senior who can’t even care for themselves, are more prone to falling ill. They are facing more difficulty in this situation, and so do their care providers.

Senior care at home is getting hard because you have to limit their exposure to people and prevent them from getting outside, which makes them feel annoyed. Seniors are more susceptible to this disease. That’s why they need someone who can help them fight in this time of crisis.
The caregiver of an older person in your home must follow the protocol and take the following precautions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

• Clean Your Hands
Senior care at home amid COVID-19 is difficult because you need to take extra precautions to minimize the risk of coronavirus; you not only have to ensure your own hygiene but also of the older adult. Before doing any work and prior touching elders, wash your hands with soap and water thoroughly for at least 20 seconds.
Not to mention, it’s your responsibility to provide the best care possible. You need to ask other people living in the same home as your client to practice proper hand hygiene and follow infection prevention protocols set forth by the CDC. Make sure to place a hand sanitizer with at least 60% concentration of alcohol in the room of that person you are looking after so that you can use it if you are in a hurry instead of running towards the washroom. To reiterate, hand sanitizers are not a replacement for hand washing.

• Wear Gloves and Mask
As the seniors are more prone to the disease, there are chances that the person you are caring may have coronavirus but not showing the signs of it yet. It can also happen that you are the one who might catch the virus and pass it on to them. In either case, you need to safeguard both of you. For this, use gloves and mask while interacting with the elders.
Moreover, wear gloves when you touch their blood or other body fluids such as mucus, vomit, and saliva. Throw out the gloves right away when you are done with your work. Wear masks whenever you come near the person you are caring for. It is also recommended for the senior to wear a mask while you are near them.

• Eat in Separate Rooms
It’s better to eat in separate rooms because the virus can spread through the oral cavity. However, if you have to feed the senior, you must take all precautions necessary to such as hand washing and wearing a mask. After eating, wash all utensils and dishes of yours and seniors with soap and water. Make sure to wear gloves while doing the washing procedure and clean your hands when you take off the gloves.

• Practice Social Distancing
You need to limit the exposure of seniors with others. It may be tough to force adults not to spend time with their family and friends. However, you need to find some ways to cherish them amid COVID-19, as social isolation can also have a negative impact on elders by disturbing their immune system and mental health.
You can connect them with their peers through video calling, telephone, or writing to them. If they have any family that is visiting them, you can ask the family members to follow the safety protocols, such as making them wear a mask and gloves. Also, ask them not to touch the nose, eyes, and mouth while you are in the home. When possible to maintain a 6-foot contact distancing. If the weather is pleasant, you can bring them outside to get fresh air and to see their family members in an open outdoor environment. Once the family members leave, wash the senior’s hands, face, and other parts that are not underneath a cloth. Also, change their clothes with clean ones. You must wash your hands as well.

• Introduce them to technology
Older people need some activities in their lives to pass their day. You can introduce them to technology to reduce their boredom. Show them how they can video chat with others, download different applications in their tablets and smartphones, such as hearing challenges and word games.
Encourage them to write emails to the family and friends who don’t live in their household. You can also help them search for movies and shows which they can watch on a tablet or TV.

• Involve Them in Healthy Activities
Try to involve them in some fun and exciting activities. Both of you can work on any project, like organizing old family photos together. You can also ask them to tell their life experiences and stories and enjoy the company of one another while drinking their favorite beverage such as coffee, tea, or juice.
If you are taking care of someone who has an interest in cooking, then ask them to be your training chef. This way, you can take their assistance and make their favorite family recipe while they will enjoy telling you what should be the next ingredient. You can also ask their family members to join your gathering and share favorite movies or songs.

• Minimize Traveling
Try to avoid traveling. If the person you are are well enough and have a routine doctor’s appointment, try to make the appointment over a video conferencing line. However, home care providers, such as TLC HomeCare, have Nurse Case Manager that can help seniors with chronic diseases. They can do an in-person home visit to determine whether you should take the person to a doctor’s appointment or not.
Moreover, they can also treat little problems of the seniors at home and can ask for the online assistance of leading doctors.

Bottom Line
As you have learned, senior care at home is not an easy task. You need to consider many aspects, from their health to their enjoyment. You always have to cherish them with different activities as well as take precautions for their health. Follow the suggestions mentioned above to keep them motivated and save them from getting sick. You can also provide the following CDC guidelines for Older Adults.

Source: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/older-adults.html

Older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness.

Steps to Reduce Risk of Getting Sick

There are things you can do to reduce your risk of getting sick.

Stress & Coping

You may feel increased stress during this pandemic. Fear and anxiety can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions.  Learn about stress and coping.

Symptoms

Symptoms of COVID-19 can range from mild symptoms to severe illness and death. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure. Watch for fever, cough, and shortness of breath.  Watch for symptoms.

Develop a Care Plan

A care plan summarizes your health conditions, medications, healthcare providers, emergency contacts, and end-of-life care options (for example, advance directives). Complete your care plan in consultation with your doctor, and if needed, with help from a family member or home nurse aide.

A care plan can have benefits beyond the current pandemic. You can update your care plan every year, or any time you have a change in your health or medications. Care plans can help reduce emergency room visits and hospitalizations, and improve overall medical management for people with a chronic health condition, resulting in better quality of life.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, having a care plan is an important part of emergency preparedness.

Senior Living Facilities

People with loved ones in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other types of senior living facilities may be understandably concerned about their loved one’s risk of illness from COVID-19.

To protect these vulnerable friends and family members, CDC has advised that long-term care facilities

  • restrict visitors,
  • regularly check healthcare workers and residents for fevers and symptoms, and
  • limit activities within the facility to keep residents safe.