Caring for Seniors Despite COVID-19
The COVID 19 pandemic may be dying down soon, with things likely to start returning to normal in May. The virus has been devastating, sweeping the nation and causing many deaths among seniors who are 60 and older. As we’ve learned from too many news headlines, nursing homes, and other long-term care facilities for the elderly have been hotbeds for the virus. Because seniors with underlying health conditions are at the highest risk for mortality from COVID-19, communal facilities that house this demographic exclusively are the worst places imaginable when it comes to susceptibility.
Our nation’s healthcare facilities were uniformly ill-structured and unprepared for a pandemic of this nature. For those who don’t rely on a senior living facility and take care of an aging loved one yourself, thankfully, those headlines are nothing more than a reminder that your hard work isn’t in vain. But that doesn’t mean that the same set of concerns doesn’t exist for you. In some cases, there may be even more concern.
Most people who take care of their aging parents or relatives have their own life and must work or go out of the house. While it may not be a concern for them because they’re young and healthy, no one wants the weight of discovering that they were the vector of infection that caused the death of their loved one.
If you’re taking care of a senior at home, the only meaningful difference right now between a nursing home and yours is the number of potential points of transmission. Hypothetically, if no one worked at or visited nursing homes, they’d be the safest places on earth from COVID-19.
Workers, volunteers, and visitors are how the virus gets in and wreaks havoc among the residents. More “workers” equals more exposure, which increases the probability that someone who enters the facility will have the virus.
So, if we assume your loved one won’t be leaving the house during these times, the only way they can get the virus is from you, your family, or its visitors. Shortly after COVID-19 first started appearing in America, the CDC updated its guidelines to reflect procedures that senior living facilities should follow to prevent the virus. When wondering how to protect your aging loved one best, an easy solution is to think of your home as a nursing home with one patient. Everyone who lives there that is not the patient is a worker for your purposes.
Now, the updated CDC guidelines can be applied to your home, knowing you’re following the leading authority’s recommendations. They have even included checklists, which could be modified for home purposes.
The emphasis of the guidelines seems to be on restricting visitors and nonessential workers. This makes sense, as it minimizes potential carriers. And this is probably the most important thing you can apply to your situation. If it doesn’t get in, they won’t get it.
While there may be some people who can be lazy and careless about social distancing measures, you and your family are not those people. You are the front line. Focus on keeping the virus out by staying home unless it’s necessary to go out. Since you have a life, sanitation will necessary, and handwashing cannot be overemphasized, especially before tending to your loved one.
The future is uncertain, but it looks as though some easing of social restrictions may begin soon, and we could see things starting to return to normal. But we don’t know for sure if this is safe yet, and it could prove to be premature. Certain areas could return to normal function only to see an explosion in infection rates, forcing the re-implementing of restrictions.
To those caring for a senior loved one, it might be very wise to wait on this, regardless of your own state’s policies. It cannot hurt to continue as you have been by assuming COVID-19 is still a significant threat. As time passes, we’ll begin to see how people are faring under less restriction, and you’ll be able to make a more educated decision.
COVID-19 could continue to be a threat indefinitely. We don’t what will happen with it or what the outcome will be for the senior healthcare industry. One thing that is certain for nearly all realms of healthcare and housing is that change is on the horizon. Just as the coronavirus has done, we must adapt to survive.
About the author
Marcel Gemme has dedicated his life to helping others find help. He started his career in the field of substance abuse 20 years ago and has helped countless families find proper rehabilitation and treatment for their loved ones. He now focuses his attention on helping individuals find long-term Senior Care, he does this through his journalism, community outreach, and his website, ECDOL.org. Excellent Care, Decency, and Optimal Living are what he aims to bring to individuals looking for care options for themselves or their aging loved ones.