Coronavirus and COVID-19: How We Are Caregiving for the Elderly.
Protect A Girls’ Image Organization takes pride in taking care of the elderly.
We have members of our organization who collaborate with hospices in Lynden Washington USA to take care of them.
When this Coronavirus Pandemic began, we were really worried because research showed that the elderly are the most vulnerable.
Research is showing that adults 60 and older, especially those with preexisting medical conditions, especially heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, or cancer are more likely to have severe — even deadly — coronavirus infection than other age groups.
While we have no control over certain risk factors such as age and while questions remain unanswered, there is much we can do to prepare and protect ourselves, our families, and our communities.
Our work in the industry is facing unprecedented pressure due to the recent COVID-19 outbreak.
Should the situation continue, we have created a contingency plan to support all the elderly people who are in our care now or may need care in the coming months.
I want to give you a few tips and guidance from some of our experts at PGIO on what you can do to help your loved ones during this time.
Keep yourself well.
First and most important, as a caretaker you should take all the precautions you can to avoid becoming infected yourself. Here are the basics:
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after providing care, preparing food, using the bathroom, or touching surfaces in public places.
- Avoid crowds, and if you cough or sneeze, do so into the bend of your elbow or into a disposable tissue.
- Keep your hands away from your face.
- Clean frequently touched surfaces in your home often, including mobility and medical equipment used by your loved one, such as walkers, canes and handrails.
We Practice social and physical distancing but not social isolation.
One important way to lower the risk of your older family members catching COVID-19 is to limit in-person visits. But this may be tough for older adults who cherish time spent with friends and family members.
Our CEO Margaret Wangui says, “Social distancing doesn’t have to mean isolation or loneliness. We need to keep older adults safe, but also keep in mind that social isolation can have a negative impact on older people’s immunity and mental health.”
She notes that in terms of social contacts, seniors should be encouraged to think beyond their usual circle of friends and family. “Saying hello to the mail carrier or checking in on neighbors close by can add to a sense of connectedness,” Margaret says.
With many houses of worship closing their doors until the pandemic eases, congregants, especially older ones, may feel cut off. “Faith communities are often a big part of older adults’ social lives,” Wangui says. Caregivers might help their loved one access online services and outreach for spiritual solace and support.”
We Use Technology for Staying Connected.
We have really tried to help older residents feel involved, purposeful, and less lonely during the pandemic. This is how we do it:
- We show them how to video chat with others using smartphones, laptops, or tablets.
- We use apps on these devices to provide captions for adults with hearing challenges.
- We encourage friends and family outside of the household to telephone, write notes, or send cards to lift their loved one’s spirits.
We Keep elders involved.
Arbaje recommends giving homebound older adults a project they can work on.
“Think about going through and organizing old photos and memories together, and enjoy the stories and happy memories they inspire.
It can be a good time for an elder to demonstrate cooking a favorite family recipe or share favorite songs or movies with other people in the household.”
We Minimize the risk of COVID-19 infection.
We have really tried to postpone unnecessary doctor visits.
If an older adult in our care is feeling well, we consider helping them postpone elective procedures, annual checkups, and other non-essential doctor visits.
We keep in mind that many older people, especially those living with chronic illness, have important relationships with their caregivers.
To help them stay in touch, we ask their doctors’ offices if they offer telemedicine which enables doctors and patients to communicate over the video, email, or other means rather than face-to-face.
We decide on a plan.
We try as much as possible to involve the older family members in discussions of how they will manage interruptions of routines and what will happen if they (or someone else in your family) becomes sick.
Talking things through ahead of time as a family can reduce stress and help everyone feel more involved and prepared.
We normally pick an emergency contact.
If you’re the main caregiver, designate someone nearby whom you could rely on to care for your elderly family member if you yourself become ill.
We keep regular medications and other supplies well-stocked.
Given the vulnerability of older individuals and those with chronic conditions, we recommend that you should have access to several weeks of medications and supplies in case they need to stay home.
Monitor food and other medical supplies needed and create a plan in the event that such resources become depleted.
For families, know what medications your loved one is taking and see if you can help them have extra to hand.
We have gathered one to three months of medications, and at least two weeks’ worth of food, over-the-counter remedies, pet supplies, and other essentials.
It is also good to find out which delivery services are available in your area.
If there are symptoms or exposure? Call ahead.
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, please call 719 or text *719# which is a toll-free number provided by the Government of Kenya.
You can also call the following County Hotline numbers 0800721316 (tollfree) / 0732353535.
We respond to multigenerational living situations.
Some of our households are multigenerational, with different people at different levels of risk residing under one roof.
Households, therefore, will need to consider the risks of all its members.
One important consideration is that many older adults live in homes where other members, such as children, may have frequent colds.
Your family institute can change now by not sharing personal items like food, water bottles, and utensils.
If possible, choose a room in your home that can be used to separate sick household members from those who are healthy. If possible, also choose a bathroom for the sick person to use.
We keep abreast of essential, up-to-date information.
The situation with COVID-19 is changing rapidly.
For example, in some areas, China has moved from in-home quarantine and isolation to dedicated facilities for suspect cases and others for confirmed cases.
That means everyone should find and regularly check a trusted information source such as the WHO’s dedicated website or their national public health agency.
Protect A Girls’ Image Organization continues to work with public health authorities to identify specific coronavirus related issues relevant to the over 50s.
Meantime, in this setting of well-founded concern, occasionally unfounded fears and rapidly evolving dynamics, it’s always important to remember your health basics for a strong mind and body: maintain a healthy lifestyle, which includes engaging in moderate exercise, keeping a healthy diet and getting regular sleep.
Household clusters of COVID-19 infections demonstrate the virus can spread more easily among people living under the same roof.
However, with planning, and incorporating additional steps as more information emerges, together we can try to minimize the impact of the COVID-19.
I hope all these tips help you when it comes to taking care of your elderly loved ones. If you have any questions or contributions, feel free to share in the comments below.
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