Caring for a senior at home and keeping them protected during the Covid-19 pandemic has been nothing short of a wild roller coaster ride for caretakers. The ever-changing recommendations from the CDC, state and local governments, as well as interpretations of those recommendations regarding masks, vaccinations, travel and how we manage our daily lives has certainly kept all of us on our toes.
Regardless of the seemingly minute-by-minute changes, there are a few constants that should be considered and implemented to keep seniors protected from infection by Covid-19 and similar illnesses.
Start with Healthy Habits
While you can help the seniors in your life, there are some ways that it’s easier for them to help themselves. Prompt your loved one to wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds each time. If they have difficulty remembering how to perform this task, gently lead them to the sink and instruct them as needed. Remind your loved one to keep their hands away from their eyes, mouth and nose. Teach them to sneeze and cough into tissues or into the inside of their elbow.
Keep it Sanitary
Have plenty of hand sanitizer that is alcohol based on hand. Place it strategically within reach of your senior in their most frequented place in the home. Some examples include the night stand, side table, kitchen counter and bathroom counter. Keep frequently contacted surfaces disinfected and clean using disinfectants that are effective against the Covid-19 virus. Think of areas such as door knobs, light switches, faucet handles, kitchen appliances, countertops, remote controls, and telephones. You should also clean walker handles, handrails and other assistive devices such as bedside commodes, cane handles, computer keyboards
Restrict visitors to the home, especially those who may be symptomatic or run the risk of coming into contact with someone who has Covid-19. As hard as it might be, advise your loved one not to travel outside the home. This would include everything from a trip to the grocery store or taking that long-planned trip. Take precautions when you visit doctors’ offices, laboratories or other medical facilities.
Stay Safe Everywhere
Encourage hand washing, restriction of touching of surfaces such as car doors. elevator buttons, door handles, etc. Provide access to travel-size bottles or wipes of alcohol-based hand sanitizer. They are a crucial component to healthier travel outside the home. Wearing a mask is an important line of defense against Covid-19 while indoors with other people. For those at high risk, including our senior population it is suggested that masks be worn when outside the home.
Mind Their Mental Health
Staying mentally and emotionally healthy is as important during the Covid-19 pandemic as the reduction of potential exposure to the virus. Caretakers can help seniors by encouraging them to stay well-hydrated and as active as they are physically able. The simplest activities like stretching exercises, puzzle books, word searches, knitting, crocheting, helping with meal prep or board games can provide stimuli to ease some of the stress of isolation brought on by this pandemic.
When in doubt, exercise your common sense and trust your instincts to keep the seniors in your life protected against Covid-19. Keeping them safe and healthy is vitally important, especially during a pandemic.