Corona Virus A Caregiver's blog

Posted on

Mar 20, 2020

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Dear Caregivers:

More and more cases of Corona virus are being identified every day. The situation is changing very quickly. How at risk is your loved one? Are you wondering how prepared our local hospitals are? We have some data from China, Italy, Japan and South , but how does it apply to us?
We know the Corona virus causes symptoms similar to flu, only it can lead to more severe complications such as difficulty breathing, pneumonia, and even death. There is no treatment and we are at least a year and a half away from an effective vaccine. So much to worry about and we are helpless in the face of this new type of Corona virus COVID-19.

Our loved ones fall into the high risk categories. The older our loved one is, the more likely they are to develop complications and perhaps need hospital support. If they are immune compromised or have chronic illnesses such as COPD, Emphysema, Asthma, CHF and others they are also at higher risk. The only way we know how to protect them is to keep them away from other people who might already be infected and not know it, or who are actively sick. This disease is now spreading in our community from person to person, and from droplets sprayed into the air landing on other people or on hard surfaces where these droplets, containing the virus, stay active much longer than the flu we are accustomed to. This is why we are told to not touch our face, maintain social distance and to clean and disinfect everything we touch in an attempt to minimize the spread of this disease

Supporting Your loved at home:

Cancel any unnecessary doctors' appointments.
Have a plan if their usual caregiver gets sick or is exposed to a person with the virus. If your caregiver comes from an agency, find out what they are doing in response to the Corona virus.
If multiple caregivers are coming into the home, consider changing to live-in care to limit the number or people coming in from the outside and protect your vulnerable loved one.
Make sure they have an adequate supply of prescription medications, adult diapers, ensure or other special foods. They may need extra help getting organized and understanding what they may need to do.
Identify activities that your loved one can do when they are alone or remotely with others to combat social isolation when keeping social distance.
Wash your hands when you arrive and when you leave.
Clean frequently touched surfaces (door knobs, key pads, doorbells, counters, toilets, faucets, light switches) and then disinfect.
If you live out of state, identify someone who can help your loved one if they need anything or were to become sick.

Supporting a loved one living in a nursing home:

Follow the policies of the facility. (Nursing homes and Assisted Living Residences in Massachusetts are restricting visitors) This also means no outside entertainment or volunteers are coming into the facility.
Appoint one person to communicate with the facility who shares information with the rest of the family. The staff is busy taking care of the residents.
Find out if outside medical providers, doctors, therapists, etc are coming into the facility. Ask how this impacts your loved one's care plan.
Call or text loved one frequently.
Send cards, pictures, magazines or books by mail.
Watch a TV show together (you at home and loved one in the facility) and then talk about it.

Supporting a loved one living in an assisted living residence.

Follow the policies of the facility.
Be aware of changes to your loved one's daily schedule. Outside speakers, entertainers and other programs have been temporarily halted during this crisis. Meals may be served in residents' apartments.
Communicate regularly with your loved one
Call or text often.
Send cards, pictures, magazines or books by mail.
Watch live streaming events on Facebook together; Arrange a time to sign onto online game sites like Words with Friends or MahJongg Time to play a game together. Invite them to share your Netflix account or Amazon music and share movies or favorite songs.

Keeping Yourself Well:
Your ability to stay well is affected by the your overall state of health

Get enough rest
Drink Water
Get outside (just keep your social distance)
Decrease stress (meditation/guided relaxation)
Accept that it is hard for everyone when their routine changes
Understand that you may not be able to do as much as you would like to
Limit the amount of exposure to the news
Know who to call if there is a mental health crisis or Crisis Hotline

This is a difficult time for everybody. It is harder for you, the caregiver, because you are caring for a vulnerable loved one.


For more ideas on how to take care of yourself or support a loved one, Contact:Malka Young, LICSW, CCM Director, JFS Elder Care Solutions (800) 655-9553

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