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Caring for the Elderly in the Era of Coronavirus

Caring for the Elderly in the Era of Coronavirus
We have all heard the warnings of COVID-19, and how the older demographic is particularly susceptible to this virus due to the likelihood of pre-existing health conditions. Research, though limited, is showing that older adults with heart disease, lung disease, cancer or diabetes are more likely to have a severe infection of the coronavirus.
There are several best practices you can take during this time in order to minimize the risk of your older loved ones while trying to be present during this difficult time.

Keep yourself healthy.

As a caretaker, your own health needs to be a very high priority. Not only does this affect the quality of care that you can provide, but you also need to ensure that you do not become a carrier for the infection and inadvertently expose your loved one.
Always sanitize your hands thoroughly before providing care, using the bathroom, preparing or eating food, or touching public surfaces.
Avoid touching your face as much as possible.
Clean frequently touched surfaces in your home often.
Avoid crowds and social gatherings as much as possible, but in the event of interaction practice responsible social distancing and mask wearing.

Distancing does not equal isolation.

An important part of reducing the risk of spreading coronavirus is reducing the amount of exposure and contact we have as a community. This means that in-person visits to your loved one will need to be limited and conducted with care to potential exposure.
However, social isolation can be devastating for older adults, especially for their immunity and health. It is important to encourage and support them in finding ways to become more connected with the community around them despite restrictions, such as becoming a part of an online community or forum. It is important that we consider social health and wellbeing as a part of the caregiving process, as regular social interaction is an important facet of longevity.

Be ready for anything.

Ultimately, remember that this novel virus has brought us into a situation that nobody was truly prepared for. Everyday there are new challenges presenting themselves. While it will be impossible to be prepared for every situation, there are a couple of safety measures that can prove useful:
Pick an emergency contact for your loved one, in the event that you fall ill yourself and are unable to provide critical care.
Pack an emergency kit with essentials such as three month’s worth of medication, some non-perishable food, pet supplies, and anything else that you may lose access to in the chaos.
Immediately get into contact with your doctor or urgent care facility if you suspect that you or anyone in your vicinity may have been exposed/are exhibiting signs of infection such as abnormally high fever and shortness of breath.

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