Elderly people are known to be more at risk of serious illness due to coronavirus, especially those who have compromised immune systems and those with pre-existing conditions. For family caregivers, the coronavirus outbreak is especially worrisome, as the majority of elderly are living with family members ones in a multi-generational homes.
Family caregivers should take the following precautions to protect seniors from COVID-19:
- Follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for contact and social distancing. Prepare your home to allow for the possibility that you will need to limit your time in shared spaces. Remember the CDC’s advice; “The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus.”
- Limit in-person contact with the elder to one person within the family while being mindful of the need for social contact. Designate a primary caregiver to be the main caregiver within the home. This primary caregiver should limit in-person interactions but can facilitate contact via devices and scheduled contact.
- Clean all household surfaces daily with EPA-registered household disinfectants. Prioritize cleaning of high-use areas. For a list of effective disinfectants for use against COVID-19, click here.
- Wash hands with water and soap for at least 20 seconds. The CDC recommends vigilance with personal hygiene, even within our own homes. Regular soap and water is known to be the most effective protection against spreading the virus. If you are using a hand sanitizer, make sure it contains at least 60 percent alcohol.
- Keep as much distance as possible between people in the home. Older adults within the house are at higher risk levels than healthy adults and children. Make every effort to minimize contact and the impact of multi-generational household.
- Spend some time outside, enjoy a walk and relaxed time with your elderly loved one. Anxiety accompanying this outbreak may feel overwhelming on top of the everyday stressors of caring for an aging parent.
- Limit your exposure to news reports and social media. The pandemic is stressful for everyone. Your reaction to the news and events influences your household. Caregivers who are calm and confident in their conversations will be better prepared and be able to prepare their elderly loved ones for challenges that lie ahead.