The COVID-19 outbreak has been very frightening, particularly for the caregivers of older adults that may be at higher risk for the virus. Millions of American adults provide billions of hours of care for family members and loved ones with chronic conditions or functional limitations that impact their ability to handle the activities of daily living. Being a caregiver is not easy, and it is even more stressful with the threat of COVID-19 looming. The virus has impacted millions of people, but it is possible to slow the spread.
While the Centers for Disease Control encourages individuals to limit contact with older individuals due to their susceptibility to the virus, it is simply not feasible for some caregivers to avoid the older individual that they care for. If this is the case for you and your loved one, consider the following strategies:
1. If you are a member of an at-risk population, such as those with chronic lung disease, those who are immunocompromised, those with diabetes, or those with chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis, try to find another family member or friend that can fill your caregiving roll temporarily. People at risk for severe illness from COVID-19 should ideally not be serving as caregivers during this outbreak.
2. Always wear gloves when you are caring for your loved one. Similarly, try to wear a face covering when you spend time with your older loved one.
3. This may go without saying, but wash your hands as often as possible! Wash your hands immediately after entering a loved one's home and do so for no less than 20 seconds.
4. Prioritize your own health too by monitoring yourself for symptoms like cough, shortness of breath, fever, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, or loss of taste/smell. If any of these symptoms arise, try to find a healthy friend or family member to take on your caregiving duties. As always, try to eat healthy, sleep well, and exercise regularly to keep your body strong and healthy.
Source: MCC. (2020, June 27). Certain strategies can help caregivers during the COVID-19 outbreak. Retrieved June 30, 2020, from Link