Coronavirus and COVID-19: Caregiving for the Elderly

As the world works together to ensure the safety of the public during the crisis caused by the novel coronavirus, particular attention needs to be paid to the older adults in our communities who are at increased risk of contracting COVID-19.

According to the CDC, while many individuals may be without symptoms following exposure to COVID-19, the elderly or those with chronic conditions are most susceptible to illness and complications caused by the virus. The CDC has revealed that 8 out of 10 deaths due to the virus reported in the U.S. have been in adults aged 65 years or older. In addition, 31-59 percent of adults who have required hospitalization in the U.S. have been between 65-84 years old with 11-31 percent of them requiring admission to the intensive care unit.

Since there is currently no vaccine to build immunity against the disease, the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus, which is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person contact through droplets of saliva.

Jay Butler, Deputy Director for Infectious Diseases at CDC, describes preventative measures to help protect older adults from COVID-19, appealing to anyone who is at risk of contracting the disease to wash and sanitize their hands often, clean and disinfect frequently touched parts of your living space, and most importantly, to avoid travel and contact with other people.

In addition, the center has also issued a preparedness list for all nursing homes and long-term care settings to help these facilities develop a comprehensive COVID-19 response plan that includes plans for rapid identification and management of ill residents, supplies and resources, consideration for visitors and consultant staff, and education and training, among other things.

While the checklist helps caregivers self-assess their preparedness efforts, it does not help with the lack of companionship the elderly are likely to face during self-isolation. Providing senior citizens with home care activities can not only keep them entertained, taking their mind off not being able to meet their loved ones, but also help improve their health and outlook on life.

Finding joyful activities for home care providers can be a tricky thing. The caregivers ought to choose activities that the elderly in their care might enjoy, taking into account any physical limitations while also providing them with a sense of accomplishment. The activities can range from previous interests and talents such as cooking and painting to more engaging pursuits like walking, gardening, and light exercise.

Memory support activities are also encouraged, particularly to help those with dementia and Alzheimers, who are particularly susceptible to respiratory illnesses. Research shows that listening to music specifically helps those with memory impairments, stimulating them to communicate and engage in the present.

Despite precautions, it is a fact that nursing home populations, who often have underlying conditions such as dementia, heart disease, asthma, or hypertension, are at the highest risk of being affected by COVID-19. It is, therefore, necessary to discuss options such as Medicare insurance to cover finances in the event of being infected.

Making insurance coverage decisions can be confusing when comparing options and choosing a plan that best meets your needs. When it comes to choosing a Medicare plan, knowing all of your options is important, as there are different plans to choose from like Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare Supplement plans.

In order to find a plan that best meets your needs, it is important to receive quotes for Medicare insurance plans in your geographic area. Completing a Medicare quote takes less than a minute, is completely free, can all be done online, and once done you are that much closer to finding a plan that is right for you.

This pandemic is an invisible enemy that the world is banding together to fight. The elderly deserve protection, so check on your loved ones and make sure they are as healthy as they can be.

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