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ASK A GERIATRIC CARE MANAGER

QUESTION:

I my mother is in her 90s – what can I do to ensure her safety and well being during the Coronavirus crisis?

ANSWER:

More and more cases of Corona virus are being identified every day. The situation is changing very quickly. How at risk is your loved one? Are you wondering how prepared our local hospitals are? We have some data from China, Italy, Japan and South , but how does it apply to us?

We know the Corona virus causes symptoms similar to flu, only it can lead to more severe complications such as difficulty breathing, pneumonia, and even death. There is no treatment and we are at least a year and a half away from an effective vaccine. So much to worry about and we are helpless in the face of this new type of Corona virus COVID-19.

Our loved ones fall into the high risk categories. The older our loved one is, the more likely they are to develop complications and perhaps be hospitalized. If they are immune compromised or have chronic illnesses such as COPD, Emphysema, Asthma, CHF and others they are also at higher risk. The only way we know how to protect them is to keep them away from other people who might already be infected and not know it, or who are actively sick. This disease is now spreading in our community from person to person, and from droplets sprayed into the air landing on other people or on hard surfaces where these droplets, containing the virus, stay active much longer than the flu we are accustomed to. This is why we are told to not touch our face, maintain social distance and to clean and disinfect everything we touch in an attempt to minimize the spread of this disease.

Supporting your loved at home:

  • Cancel any unnecessary doctors’ appointments.
  • Have a plan if their usual caregiver gets sick or is exposed to a person with the virus. If your caregiver comes from an agency, find out what they are doing in response to the Corona virus.
  • If multiple caregivers are coming into the home, consider changing to live-in care to limit the number or people coming in from the outside and protect your vulnerable loved one.
  • Make sure they have an adequate supply of prescription medications, adult diapers, ensure or other special foods. They may need extra help getting organized and understanding what they may need to do.
  • Identify activities that your loved one can do when they are alone or remotely with others to combat social isolation when keeping social distance.
  • Wash your hands when you arrive and when you leave.
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces (door knobs, key pads, doorbells, counters, toilets, faucets, light switches) and then disinfect.
  • If you live out of state, identify someone who can help your loved one if they need anything or were to become sick.

Supporting a loved one living in a nursing home:

  • Follow the policies of the facility. (Nursing homes and Assisted Living Residences in Massachusetts are restricting visitors) This also means no outside entertainment or volunteers are coming into the facility.
  • Appoint one person to communicate with the facility who shares information with the rest of the family. The staff is busy taking care of the residents.
  • Find out if outside medical providers, doctors, therapists, etc are coming into the facility. Ask how this impacts your loved one’s care plan.
  • Call or text loved one frequently.
  • Send cards, pictures, magazines or books by mail.
  • Watch a TV show together (you at home and loved one in the facility) and then talk about it.

Supporting a loved one living in an assisted living residence:

  • Follow the policies of the facility.
  • Be aware of changes to your loved one’s daily schedule. Outside speakers, entertainers and other programs have been temporarily halted during this crisis. Meals may be served in residents’ apartments.
  • Communicate regularly with your loved one.
  • Call or text often.
  • Send cards, pictures, magazines or books by mail.
  • Watch live streaming events on Facebook together; Arrange a time to sign onto online game sites like Words with Friends or MahJongg Time to play a game together. Invite them to share your Netflix account or Amazon music and share movies or favorite songs.

Keeping Yourself Well:

  • Your ability to stay well is affected by the your overall state of health
  • Get enough rest
  • Exercise
  • Drink Water
  • Get outside (just keep your social distance)
  • Decrease stress (meditation/guided relaxation)
  • Accept that it is hard for everyone when their routine changes
  • Understand that you may not be able to do as much as you would like
  • Limit the amount of exposure to the news
  • Know who to call if there is a mental health crisis or Crisis Hotline

This is a difficult time for everybody. It is harder for you, the caregiver, because you are caring for a loved one. However you don’t have to do it alone. If you need help managing these challenges, a geriatric care manager can help.  Contact me to learn how partnering with a geriatric care manager can provide you with the guidance and support you need to ensure the well-being of your loved ones.

Do you have questions about caring for an aging loved one? We have the answers. Send them to me today and receive free information about caring for an aging loved one!

 

Malka Young

With more than 25 years experience navigating complex health care systems, Young has worked in teaching hospitals, home care, nursing homes, hospice and in the community. Her positive energy, in-depth knowledge of both traditional and non-traditional community resources and her tireless advocacy, provides personalized, well thought out solutions that are creative and pragmatic. Clients find solutions that maximize autonomy and independence, balancing safety and their need for a vital and engaged life.

Malka Young has blogged 100 posts