Older people are known to be more at risk of serious illness due to coronavirus, especially those with pre-existing conditions and those who are immune compromised. The majority of older adults do not live in residential facilities and instead are cared for by family members, therefore the coronavirus outbreak is especially worrisome for those who are living with elderly loved ones in a multigenerational home.
Family caregivers should take the following precautions to protect seniors from COVID-19:
- Follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for social distancing. Don’t panic, but prepare your home to allow for the possibility that you will need to limit your time in public spaces. Be mindful of the CDC’s advice that, “The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus.”
- Keep as much distance as possible between people in the home. For example, limit the elder to a single location in the house and don’t share personal items. The virus spreads easily among people in the same household, and older adults within the house are at higher risk levels than healthy adults and children. Make every effort to minimize the impact of multigenerational living.
- Limit contact with the elder to one person. Designate a primary caregiver to provide all contact with the elder in the home. The primary caregiver should also limit their daily interactions with people outside the home to reduce their risk of exposure.
- Wash hands with water and soap for at least 20 seconds. The CDC recommends we become very serious about personal hygiene, even within our own homes. Regular soap and water is the most effective protection against spreading the virus. If you are using a hand sanitizer, make sure it contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Cover all surfaces of the hands with sanitizer and rub until dry.
- Clean all household surfaces daily with EPA-registered household disinfectants. Prioritize even more rigorous cleaning of high-use areas. For a list of effective disinfectants for use against COVID-19, click here: List N.
- Postpone non-essential doctor and dentist visits.
- Spend some time outside. The fear and 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. Take a walk, step outside to breathe some fresh air, or lead your parent to the porch while you plant some spring flowers or stretch your legs in the back yard. Stay connected to family, friends and neighbors by teaching an elder how to Skype or Facetime. Your reaction to the situation influences the reaction of those in your household. Caregivers who are confident and calm in their preparations will be better prepared for the challenges that lie ahead.
Source: Aging Care