Keep yourself well
First and most important, as a caretaker you should take all the precautions you can to avoid becoming infected yourself. Here are the basics:
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after providing care, preparing food, using the bathroom, or touching surfaces in public places.
- Avoid crowds, and if you cough or sneeze, do so into the bend of your elbow or into a disposable tissue.
- Keep your hands away from your face.
- Clean frequently touched surfaces in your home often, including mobility and medical equipment used by your loved one, such as walkers, canes and handrails.
Keep elders involved
Arbaje recommends giving home bound older adults a project they can work on. “Think about going through and organizing old photos and memorabilia together, and enjoy the stories and happy memories they inspire. It can be a good time for an elder to demonstrate cooking a favorite family recipe or share favorite songs or movies with other people in the household.”
Minimize the risk of COVID-19 infection
Keep in mind that many older people, especially those living with chronic illness, have important relationships with their caregivers. To help them stay in touch, ask their doctors’ offices if they offer telemedicine, which enables doctors and patients to communicate over video, email or other means rather than face-to-face.
Avoid travel. Older adults should put off non-essential travel, particularly cruises or trips with itineraries that would expose them to crowds.
Symptoms or exposure? Call ahead
If you or your loved one learn that you might have been exposed to someone diagnosed with COVID-19 or if anyone in your household develops symptoms such as cough, fever or shortness of breath, call your family doctor, nurse helpline or urgent care facility. Here’s what to do when you feel sick.
For a medical emergency such as severe shortness of breath or high fever, call 911.