Tips for Caregivers: How To Keep Elderly Patients Safe from COVID-19

keep elderly safe during COVID-19

COVID-19, an acute respiratory illness that stems from a strain of coronavirus, is the virus responsible for the current pandemic our country is facing. The COVID-19 strain is known to cause severe symptoms, sometimes leading to fatal consequences. Unfortunately, research has found that the elderly, or adults older than 60, are especially sensitive to this virus. 

Elderly individuals who suffer from preexisting medical health conditions, such as heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, or cancer, are more also likely to experience the severe side effects and deadly consequences of COVID-19. 

While social distancing and masks have been proven effective in stopping the spread of COVID-19, there is much more involved in keeping elderly patients safe and healthy. Let’s take a look at exactly how caregivers can keep their elderly patients safe from the COVID-19 virus. 

Take Care of Yourself 

While a caretaker’s job is to care for their patient, you must continue to practice good self-care as well. During the COVID-19 pandemic, you will find there is a greater emphasis on caregiver’s personal safety and health. After all, if you are exposed to the virus yourself, you cannot continue to care for your patient. 

To ensure that you are remaining healthy while caring for your elderly patient, make sure to do the following:

  • Frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after providing your patient with care, making food, using the bathroom, or touching surfaces in public places.
  • Wear a mask when around other people and outside your home.
  • Remain socially distant by avoiding crowded, public places. 
  • If you have to cough or sneeze, do so into the bend of your elbow or a tissue. 
  • Do not touch your face with your hands. 
  • Frequently clean surfaces in your home and your patient’s home that are touched often. This includes any medical equipment that is used by you and your patient. 

Minimize the Risk of Exposure to COVID-19

During the pandemic, the CDC has made it clear that staying home and avoiding social gatherings is the best way to avoid exposure to COVID-19. If your patient is feeling well and is not displaying signs of sickness, consider postponing any non-essential doctor’s visits. 

You should also ask their doctor if they provide online services, so your patient can attend doctor’s visits without exposing themselves to the risk of COVID-19. Additionally, it may be wise to ask your patient’s pharmacist about acquiring a 3-month supply of any prescriptions they may need. This will help reduce the number of times you go to the store to pick up your patient’s medication. 

Make sure you avoid travel and large gatherings during this time as much as possible. If you find that you cannot avoid a social event or travel, make sure you and your patient wear and mask and follow the CDC’s guidelines for testing and quarantining after possible exposure.

Properly Disinfect the Home 

Because studies have shown that the COVID-19 strain can remain on surfaces for hours or days, it’s important to properly disinfect your home and your patient’s home. 

According to the CDC, you should do the following when disinfecting your home:

  • If a surface is visibly dirty, clean it with soap and water first. Then, use a disinfectant. 
  • Wear disposable gloves while cleaning. 
  • Make sure the area you are cleaning has proper ventilation. 
  • Use a diluted bleach solution or an alcohol-based solution with at least 70% alcohol.
  • After making sure the cleaning supplies are not expired, follow the directions on the label. 
  • Wash your hands efficiently after cleaning. 

Limit Visitors 

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it dangerous to allow visitors into other people’s homes. As a caregiver to an elderly patient, you should advise them to refrain from having in-person visitors with people outside the home during this time. 

One concern about limiting visitors is that this can cause social isolation, which often leads to depression, especially in elderly individuals. To protect your patient’s mental health and physical health, you should provide them with solutions for staying connected with their friends and family during this difficult time.

To help your patient feel less lonely during the COVID-19 pandemic, consider the following:

  • Teach them how to video chat with friends and family on their smartphone, tablet, laptop, or computer.
  • Utilize apps on those devices to provide audio captions for older adults with hearing issues.
  • Encourage your patient’s friends and family members to write them letters or call them more often. 

If someone outside the household must come in the home, ask them and your patient to wear a mask.

Create a “Sick Plan”

In the event that you or your patient become sick, you should always have a plan ready. Involve your elderly patient in discussions about how you will manage routines and care in case you (or someone close to you) becomes sick with the virus. This should involve choosing an emergency contact who can care for your patient in the event of you catching the COVID-19 virus.

Additionally, you should stock up on the patient’s essential items, including prescription medications, food, over-the-counter medications, pet supplies, and other necessities. If you are sick with COVID-19 and someone else is temporarily caring for your patient, it may be wise to have a pill organizer set up. This will help the temporary caregiver properly administer the patient’s medications. 

Stock Up On Your Patient’s Medical Supplies at Kelmedix

Are you currently caring for an elderly patient during the COVID-19 pandemic? If so, you should consider stocking up on their essential medical supplies in case of a shut-down or mandatory quarantine. Head over to our online store or contact us today for more information. 

References:

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/quarantine.html
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/disinfecting-your-home.html
  3. https://www.nia.nih.gov/news/social-isolation-loneliness-older-people-pose-health-risks
  4. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/care-for-someone.html