All of us are especially concerned about the Corona virus pandemic. As a caregiver, I’m especially concerned since our elderly population has been identified as the most vulnerable, because I fully understand their limitations in their day to day lives. If you have elderly parents, neighbors or are helping out in the community, please check on these things to make their lives a bit easier in the coming days.
1. First and foremost - Please don’t visit any older person if you think, for any reason, that you might have been exposed to the virus. Also, many senior living communities are limiting visitors. Set up ways to communicate if quarantined - Skype, FaceTime, phone calls etc. Loneliness is a recipe for depression and a general malaise in seniors. It raises the levels of stress hormones like cortisol, which impairs immune responses and contributes to inflammation. Loneliness can actually lead to illnesses that manifest physically and psychologically in seniors. Please make sure you’re keeping in touch and you keep reassuring your loved ones everyday. Let them know that they are loved and valued, and that’s why you’re spending time with them - even though virtually. Remind them to stay hydrated when you talk to them. If possible, enlist the help of family and friends towards this end.
2. Stock up on their pills - No one knows how the coming days will unfold. Please make sure that they have their essential medications supply for at least a few weeks.
3. Set up their pills - For those whose pills are set out per dosage every week, please do this for a few weeks at a time now. This is just as a contingency just in case whoever does this is not able to do it in a timely manner.
4. As a precaution - Please arrange for alternative caregivers even if you live with your loved ones. Again, it is about protecting the seniors and if something happens with their primary caregiver or caregivers, it’s important to have a back up plan in place.
5. Get them non perishable foods - Make sure you consider their limitations i.e do not get them regular canned foods if they can’t open up cans due to issues like arthritis. Get the easy open assist cans or get them an electric opener. Please don’t get them foods that they have to cook if they have any cognitive decline due to safety concerns. Please also clean out their refrigerators and pantry to make sure that you avoid food poisoning. I have found some soup from 2015 in a clients pantry. Make sure that the supplies they have are safe to consume.
6. Make sure their first is kit is well stocked - Avail OTC Fever reducers such as acetaminophen, in case they do need it at some point. Again, please be cognizant of their limitations - do not avail medications to someone whose cognitive abilities would impact their dosage and decision making with regards to pill ingestion.
7. Make sure they have a supply of hearing aid batteries.
8. Make arrangements for caring for their pets - If they have any. Just in case they’re not able to walk their dog, who’d be responsible?
9. Other than the regular supplies - Toilet paper, paper towels etc please make sure that they have their medical hygiene supplies. Stock up on incontinence supplies - Order pull ups/depends, chucks and pads. Order baby wipes. Whatever medical supplies they use - make sure they’re well supplied.
It's not how much you do, but how much love you put in the doing -- Mother Theresa
While Corona virus is the big monster of the day, as the support that the seniors are relying on, we also need to be aware of the other risks that come with limited mobility and limited social interactions. Make sure that they’re moving around every so often even if just inside the home so as to avoid the myriad of problems that come with immobility. Supply engaging materials to read or even games such as crossword puzzles so as to keep their minds engaged. Sending you and your loved ones love and light - this, too, shall pass.