Practical Guidelines To Follow During This Time Of Crisis
By Guest Author, Taylor Vander Well
Senior care communities nation-wide are doing everything they can to keep residents and service users healthy and to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). While health officials are still in the dark about how this virus works, it has been widely reported that older people and those with chronic health conditions or weaker immune systems appear to be more vulnerable.
In light of the detrimental impact coronavirus has had on seniors, many care communities are taking measures outlined below to try and avoid the spread of coronavirus. While these generally pertain to senior care providers, they are useful guidelines to follow for family caregivers and those who have contact with the elderly, too.
Restrict Visitor Access
Many care communities are restricting visitor access. Nonessential visitors (people who are not staff or medical professionals) are not allowed or advised to enter senior care communities at this time. Proceed with caution if you go anywhere where you come into contact with large numbers of older people (senior centers, churches, fitness class, etc).
“Social distancing” techniques proved to be successful in delaying the spread of viruses like SARS and MERS. This is a quick and easy action you can take to protect the elderly.
Rather than serving meals in a dining room with lots of people, many senior living communities are opting to deliver meals to residents’ homes.
Delivery services for shopping, takeout, and groceries are also opting to drop items off at the door to delay the spread of infection.
Practice Proper Prevention Hygiene
Coronavirus spreads through droplets, so it might be best to avoid hugs, kisses, and handshakes with older people at this time. If you are coming into contact with an older person, wash your hands beforehand if possible.
If you need to cough or sneeze, do so into your sleeve or tissue that you immediately throw away.
Lastly, always make sure to wash your hands with plenty of soap or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. A good rule of thumb is to sing-a-song for at least 20 seconds to ensure viruses, including the coronavirus, are rendered harmless.
Have a Communication Plan
Make sure that the elderly people in your life are aware that coronavirus is highly contagious and very negatively affecting older demographics. You don’t want to alarm them or cause them any panic.
However, they must take this seriously, practicing proper hygiene and social distancing themselves. Does your loved one attend a day service, have in-home care, or live in a nursing home? Ask their care provider if they have any sort of app or digital platform for keeping you in the loop with immediate live updates, changes, and important information regarding COVID-19.
If an elderly person in your life is displaying any symptoms of coronavirus (cough, fever, shortness of breath, chest tightness) they should immediately seek local medical advice before going to the doctor.
In some places, clinical offices are asking that you phone before coming in. This is in an attempt to prevent the spread of infection to other visitors and make sure those who need medical attention the most receive it.