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How to Care for the Elderly During COVID-19

Mar 26, 2020 | Blog Articles

During the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it is challenging to know what to do or how to take care of your loved one who may be at a higher risk of contracting this virus.  This is especially true if they have an advanced illness. 

At WV Caring, our goal is to provide you with the information necessary to protect yourself and your loved one from the risk of contracting the coronavirus. Learn how to care for an elderly family member here. 

WHO IS AT A HIGHER RISK TO CONTRACT THE CORONAVIRUS?

Unfortunately, there is limited information about the coronavirus, and new information is coming out every day. The Center for Disease Control CDC is the best source to learn about COVID-19.  The CDC has listed the following individuals as having a higher risk of contracting coronavirus:

  • People aged 65 years and older
  • People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
  • Individuals who have:
    • Chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
    • Heart disease with complications
    • Immunocompromised including cancer treatment
    • Severe obesity
    • Certain underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, renal failure, or liver disease

HOW TO CARE FOR AN ELDERLY FAMILY MEMBER

 If you are the primary caregiver for an elderly person or someone who has an advanced illness, you need to be extremely cautious during the COVID-19 pandemic due to their heightened chances of contracting the coronavirus. Taking precautions can include:

  • Cleaning and Protecting Your Environment
  • Monitoring Yourself and Your Loved One for Symptoms
  • Limiting Contact with Visitors or Other Family Members
  • Maintaining Medical Supplies
  • Protecting Yourself and Your Loved One

 Cleaning Your Environment

Stay Clean

This is a big one. According to the CDC, coronavirus can spread between people who are in close contact within 6’ ft of each other through respiratory droplets when the infected person coughs or sneezes on another person. Also, a person can be infected by touching a surface that has been contaminated. Due to how the coronavirus can be transmitted, it’s essential to keep a clean environment, including:

  • Using gloves, masks and protective clothing around your loved one
  • Wiping down all areas that have been touched using household cleaners (bleach and water)
  • Washing hands for 20 seconds with soap and water

Monitoring Yourself and Your Loved One for Symptoms

Monitor Your Symptoms

Unfortunately, it is not unreasonable to be worried that you or your loved one might contract coronavirus; however, you can monitor for symptoms so that proper medical care can be provided.

 According to the CDC, symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

 If you or a loved one develops any of the following warning signs, you should receive medical attention immediately:

  • Increased trouble of breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • Confusion
  • Bluish lips or face

 Limiting Contact with Visitors or Other Family Members

Limit Contact

 When taking care of a loved one, it may be tempting to bring an additional helper like a child, sibling or spouse. However, during this time, it is recommended that only one individual should continue to provide care to the loved one. By doing so, you are minimizing the risk of your loved one contracting the coronavirus.

 Maintaining Medical Supplies

 Due to the decreased access to medical supplies, do your best to keep in stock masks and gloves, paper towels, tissues, a thermometer, hand soap, dish soap, hand sanitizer and cleaning products. Additionally, it is recommended that if your loved one is taking medication, ask their pharmacist to refill their prescription for a longer period than the usual supply.

Protecting Yourself & Your Loved One

First, stay calm and have faith in our leaders. It’s important to follow the WV state orders as well as the CDC and Federal government.  Follow the stay-at-home order that was issued by WV Governor, Jim Justice.

  • Limit visitors to your home.
  • Limit close contact with others.
  • Practice social distancing by keeping at least 6ft. between you and others.
  • Wash your hands frequently, do not touch your face with your hands.
  • Use a mask or bandana covering your mouth and nose.
  • Cleanliness is imperative and can’t be stressed enough.  This includes your home, surfaces and doorknobs, wash your clothes, car, and keeping you and your loved ones clean.

While sheltering in place think about what you can do with your time.

  • Go outside for fresh air, if you are able to go for a walk or enjoy the mild spring weather.
  • Stimulate your mind by working a puzzle, playing cards, games or reading a good book.
  • Pick up a new hobby or one that you used to enjoy.
  • Stay connected, call an old friend, neighbors or relatives, send cards or write a letter to someone you care about, even though you’re distancing yourself from others.

If You or Your Loved One Needs More Support

During this pandemic, WV Caring is open 24 X 7 and serving its patients and is ready to care for you or your loved one. If your loved one is diagnosed with a life-limiting illness or living with one, hospice may be a good option at this time.  It would provide that extra layer of care and support now when it’s needed most. Hospice includes:

  • Medical care from nurses and personal care by your certified nursing aide
  • Social workers to help with emotional and financial difficulties
  • Pain and symptom management to make the patient feel comfortable
  • Medical equipment, medications, supplies needed about the illness
  • Trained volunteers
  • Spiritual care for the patient and family members
  • Grief and loss counseling during and after the patient died for one year.

WV Caring Has Been Taking Measures for its Patients, Staff and Community

WV Caring and its staff have been preparing since January for the day when the virus reached WV.

  • Taking every precautionary measure for protecting its staff and patients from the spread of this infectious disease.
  • Providing more education and training with our patients and caregivers.
  • Continuous education, training, daily updates and communication are some of the steps WV Caring is taking.

All staff regardless of their position has been educated, trained and had to pass a written test. Every day before reporting to work, every WV Caring employee must pass a self-reporting test that identifies symptoms and other conditions. If anyone has any of the symptoms or may have had contact with someone, then they are unable to work and must isolate themselves for the appropriate period.

Last week before other healthcare providers acted, WV Caring mandated that all operational staff work from home. The clinical staff is working as usual from their home office. And, WV Caring’s staff and volunteers made 300 cloth masks for staff due to limited Protective Personal Equipment (PPE).  Several weeks ago, all events through May were canceled. Last week the WV Caring Resale Shops were closed before the essential business order was in effect. This will continue until the stay-at-home order is rescinded.

WV Caring wants to make sure we are helping our community in any way possible. If you have questions about how to care for the elderly family member in your life, please let us know. Contact us by calling 1-866-656-9790 or visit our website here.

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