For those responsible for the care of seniors, the COVID-19 pandemic can be overwhelming. There’s concern not only about their own wellness but about the potential they have to do unintentional harm to those in their care. If you’re a family caregiver, you understand these worries and might be feeling disconcerted by your lack of control over the situation. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect your health and the health of your loved ones.
Why does this crisis feel so unmanageable? It’s largely because so much about the virus is unknown, and that’s disconcerting. Further, when we hear statistics like the one-in-five fatality rate in people 80 years old or older, it’s scary for those of us who have elderly loved ones. So, what can you do with all of this worry? Experts recommend that you turn it into practical action.
Use COVID-19 Best Practices
· Do the basic things you already know to do. The protective measures that have been encouraged since the beginning of this pandemic still apply. Wash your hands frequently, stay several feet away from other people, stay out of crowds, and help older people to remain protected in their homes. Get regular exercise, get enough sleep, and eat a healthy diet, to keep your immune system strong. Staying healthy protects the seniors in your care, helping them to stay healthy as well.
· Clean everything. Your phone is a major priority, because it goes with you everywhere, is likely to be exposed to contaminants, and then is used next to your face. Wipe it down with disinfectant wipes regularly to prevent transmission of viruses, bacteria, and fungi. When you’ve been out and come back home, wash your clothes, wipe down personal items like your wallet or purse, and frequently clean commonly touched surfaces like door handles, counters, light switches, and remote controls.
· Limit your exposure. Especially when you have a close family, it can be hard to avoid kissing and hugging; for right now, it’s essential. Be careful who you are around, and don’t shy away from asking people you have to be around if they’ve had a cough or fever. Everyone has an obligation to help slow the spread of this virus, so it isn’t unreasonable to be cautious about your interactions.
· Connect in low-risk ways. Even though it’s important to physical health to keep seniors protected, it’s important to their mental health to prevent them from being isolated. Help the seniors in your life connect with friends and family, whether virtually, on the phone, or by writing letters. Letter writing is something of a lost art these days, but most seniors really enjoy receiving mail because it’s a familiar tradition from their youth.
· Find ways to stay grounded. Recognize that you’re never going to have control over every aspect of life, even when there’s not a pandemic, but especially now. Take things as they come, day by day, focusing on being present in the moment. Don’t overwhelm yourself with news, statistics, and social media, and help the seniors in your care to focus on other things, too. Do things you enjoy and look for the positives in your situation, finding the silver lining even in the midst of a chaotic time. Every day, do the things that are important and don’t focus on things that are beyond your control.
· Keep up a regular routine as much as possible. Engage in healthy pursuits like meditation, journaling, puzzles, or arts and crafts.. Take walks outside whenever you can, soaking in fresh air and vitamin D. You may also find it helpful to use schedules and lists to keep yourself and your senior organized and occupied.
If You’re Exposed to COVID-19, Remain Calm.
· What is considered exposure to COVID-19? Exposure means you spent 15 minutes or more within 6 feet of a person with COVID-19, whether or not that person has symptoms. Even if you were both masked, it’s considered exposure.
· What’s the next step after COVID-19 exposure? Self-monitor for symptoms, stay away from people who are in a high-risk category, and stay home until 14 days after the last exposure. It is especially vital that you steer clear of the seniors in your life to protect them from exposure.
· How long after exposure to COVID-19 should I get tested? There’s not really a consensus on when to get tested for COVID-19 after exposure, but experts agree that testing too soon can increase the possibility of a false negative. Waiting at least two to three days after potential exposure is recommended, though some health experts say five days after exposure may be a better time to test.
· How long does it take after exposure to COVID-19 to develop symptoms? Many cases of COVID-19 are asymptomatic, which is why it’s important to stay home if you’ve been exposed. In cases where the person does show symptoms, they tend to appear between 2 and 14 days, typically around about day 5 or 6. A person with COVID-19 can be contagious 48 to 72 hours before exhibiting any symptoms.
At BrightStar Care, we know that healthcare can sometimes be confusing, and caring for a family member can be challenging. That’s why we work hard to deliver the right care for your loved one and to be a partner you can turn to for support. Because we believe that caring is more than just a job, our nurses, therapists, CNAs, and caregivers offer the most professional compassionate care available. As a leader in providing the highest quality care, we will always go above and beyond traditional home care standards. Every locally owned and operated BrightStar Care agency follows The Joint Commission National Patient Safety Goals, including infection prevention, which minimizes the risks of disease transmission as seen in viruses like COVID-19. When it comes to the pandemic, we also follow CDC guidelines. We’re already well-versed in ways of keeping clients safe, using measures like infection control (IC), proper hand washing, and cough and cold etiquette. We work diligently to equip our nurses and caregivers with OSHA-approved Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to minimize the risks of disease transmission. In the comforting, familiar surroundings of home, we offer a full range of care services to meet your loved one’s needs and help you when you need it most.