With the rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide, seniors are currently among the highest groups at risk and keeping them safe is a critical priority for caregivers. Current confirmed cases of COVID-19 in U.S. states such as New Mexico are low compared to areas like New York, Washington, and California, based on up-to-date reports from Statista. However, with all 50 states now reporting cases, it’s important for communities and families to stay vigilant and protect themselves.
Many cities across the U.S. have been doing their part to limit the spread of COVID-19 by closing recreational facilities, shopping locations, and restaurants, among other highly populated areas. According to the CDC, retirement communities are being advised to:
- Restrict all visitation and non-essential healthcare personnel (with a few exceptions)
- Cancel group dining and group activities
- Actively screen residents and staff for COVID-19
- Immediately identify and manage any ill residents
- Review plans for additional training and staffing as part of their emergency preparations
- Actively update residents and families about the actions they are taking to protect everyone and share information about how families can help to protect themselves.
With supportive services staying open as long as possible to provide adult day care for seniors, Marketwatch reports that many centers like Nevada Senior Services are carefully monitoring patients and helping to keep up with seniors’ physical, mental and emotional health, which becomes even more at risk when they are being instructed by the government to stay isolated.
But for many individuals and families, the sudden elimination of important resources and outlets for social activities and family visits is especially confusing and frustrating. It is also a challenging time for caregivers, those prone to anxiety and depression, and those who have difficulties with isolation. Seniors who live alone, who rely on outings or outside services for housekeeping and other tasks may be especially vulnerable to loneliness and may not be getting the proper care they need.
Whether you’re a caregiver or a senior, you may feel uncertain about what steps you should be taking to stay safe and get the assistance you need. Fortunately, help in your community is available.
Resources for Staying Healthy During COVID-19
Along with current advice to continuously and thoroughly wash your hands, avoid large gatherings and other general recommendations from the World Health Organization, it’s important to talk to others about how you are feeling. It’s okay to feel anxious and to express your concerns. Discussing your thoughts first and foremost allows you to connect with others and continue a broader discussion about steps you can take.
Seniors and caregivers should:
- Consult with a senior care representative about assistance with in-home care and tasks such as meals and cleaning as well as other ongoing services that are available during this time
- Avoid going into stores. Instead, arrange for meal delivery services or ask a healthy volunteer to pick up groceries and other supplies
- Arrange to have medications delivered if possible, or fulfil a larger amount of prescriptions ahead of time to limit pickups or delays in receiving medication if there is a shortage or pharmacies are asked to close
- Regularly call or message neighbors and loved ones who may be more affected by isolation to ensure that they’re okay and to discuss how you’re both feeling
- Use video calls or other video software to connect with family and friends
- Check for online streaming of religious ceremonies as another way to stay connected
- Download a new game, book or show onto a smart device (some streaming services such as Netflix now have a new feature that allows families and friends to connect to watch shows together).
- Check your local library’s website to access digital services
- Keep active by going for a walk in the neighborhood when the weather permits or continuing at-home exercises (a digital app can be a great way to stay connected and active)
- Start a new hobby or self-care activity such as painting or meditation to keep the mind engaged and relaxed
Looking for more information and tips? We encourage you to schedule a call with one of the dedicated Aging Life Care Managers™ in our network. We’re working tirelessly during this crisis to keep seniors and caregivers safe.