It’s been a year since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though there’s light at the end of the tunnel with fewer cases and more vaccines, older adults must still be cautious. Now more than ever, there’s a higher demand for in-home care and virtual assistance. Older adults and their loved ones are becoming more interested in at-home aid, considering the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
There are also a few statistics that make life after the pandemic promising for older adults. Senior Helpers, offering in-home senior care, recently completed a survey to gauge older adults’ behaviors one year after the start of the pandemic. Here are two important takeaways:
- 72% of older adults feel safer seeing loved ones now than at the start of the pandemic.
- 88% of older adults are more self-sufficient than before, making it more feasible to stay home.
However, the reality is, many loved ones are exhausted from caring for their elderly relatives. In-home care gives family members and caregivers a break and a little peace of mind that their loved ones are safe. Before you look into care options in today’s climate, there are a few COVID-19 factors to consider still.
In-Home Care and COVID-19 Safety Precautions
Even though vaccinations are changing the pandemic’s direction, the AARP encourages families to still use caution. Social distancing when helping patients is challenging. Many caregiving services are conducting temperature screenings and COVID-19 questionnaires to check for any COVID-19 symptoms or transmission.
If the caregiver or patient is not feeling well or has been around someone with COVID-19, it’s best to postpone in-person assistance and do as much as possible virtually. Since the start of the pandemic, delivery services and video conferencing have evolved to help those in quarantine or choosing to socially distance, so there’s no shortage of options.
Wearing a mask and washing your hands are well-known safety precautions. But here are a few other safety measures that patients can take depending on their health and needs:
- Understand the in-home care agency’s COVID-19 plan to ease any worries or address concerns.
- Limit the number of in-home visits.
- Get as much help as you can over video or phone to limit a caregiver’s time in the home.
- Disinfect frequently touched areas before and after care.
- Keep extra PPE handy for your caregiver as a backup.
Remember to monitor your health and any symptoms you may have to keep nurses and caregivers safe, too.
Caregiver COVID-19 Safety Precautions
COVID-19 and the new law for providers and caregivers to use electronic visit verification to track each patient’s services can make caregiving overwhelming. Despite all of the sudden changes, caregivers’ health is still a high priority. Make sure your caregiver is following COVID-19 safety measures when possible. If you believe that a caregiver isn’t following CDC recommended guidelines, reach out to their agency for questions. Caregivers should take the following precautions:
- Wear gloves, a mask and any other required PPE at all times and change PPE after each patient.
- Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after service.
- Monitor your health and stay home if you’re sick. If you believe your patient is ill but still needs help, reach out to your caregiving agency for a plan of action.
- Limit close interaction as much as possible during service.
- Try to avoid large gatherings to prevent getting infected.
Create a Care Plan
Now’s a good time to create a backup plan if you, a close relative or your caregiver are suspected of having COVID-19. It’s just like preparing for inclement weather. The CDC has conversation tips and a template to help you get started. Here are some personal conditions and preferences to keep in mind:
- Medical conditions and allergies
- Emergency contacts
- A list of nearby delivery services for groceries and medicine
- Hospital, provider and insurance information
Start by keeping extra medication and necessities handy. Then, talk to your caregiver about their in-home care agency’s plan if someone has COVID-19 and a plan that works best for you based on your needs.
Choosing the Right Caregiver for Your Loved One
Returning to work or making out-of-town plans are more common than before. If your loved one has to resume pre-pandemic activities, it may be time to find the proper care. But with COVID-19 still a major concern for many families, finding a trusted caregiver can be challenging.
- Ask about COVID-19 safety precautions and what happens if someone has it.
- Ask about available services. Some caregiving agencies may not offer certain services at this time.
- Discuss virtual services in case the caregiver or patient is sick.
- Ask if the caregivers are also caring for those in nursing homes or other facilities.
- Most importantly, ask any questions needed to address your concerns.
Caregivers are in high demand right now, so feel free to ask your doctor for agency recommendations.
Additional Older Adult Resources
Below are a few other resources for caregivers and your loved ones can use for extra help: =