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Geriatrics expert shares tips on caring for the elderly during coronavirus


When it involves COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, older people are especially at risk of severe illness. Research is showing that adults 60 and older, especially those with preexisting medical conditions, especially cardiopathy, lung disease, diabetes, or cancer are more likely to own severe — even deadly — coronavirus infection than other age groups.

If you’re caring for an older loved one, you might be worried. Alicia Arbaje, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D. specializes in internal medicine and geriatrics at Johns Hopkins. She shares what you need to know to keep elderly people safer, and what to do if they do become infected with COVID-19.


Keep yourself well

First and foremost, as a caretaker, you must take all the precautions to avoid becoming infected yourself.

Here are the basics:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds before and after providing care, preparing food, using the lavatory, or touching surfaces publicly places.
  • Avoid crowds, and if you cough or sneeze, do so into the bend of your elbow or into a disposable tissue.
  • Keep your hands away from your face.
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces in your home often, including mobility and medical equipment utilized by your honey, like walkers, canes, and handrails.


Practice social and physical distancing but not social isolation

One important way to lower the risk of your older family members catching COVID-19 is to limit in-person visits. But this may be tough for older adults who cherish time spent with friends and family members.

Arbaje says, “Social distancing doesn’t have to mean isolation or loneliness. We need to keep older adults safe, but also keep in mind that social isolation can have a negative impact on older people’s  immunity and mental health.”

She notes that in terms of social contacts, seniors should be encouraged to think beyond their usual circle of friends and family. “Saying hello to the mail carrier or checking in on neighbors close by can add to a sense of connectedness,” Arbaje says.

With many houses of worship closing their doors until the pandemic eases, congregants, especially older ones, may feel cut off. “Faith communities are often a big part of older adults’ social lives,” Arbaje says. Caregivers might help their loved one access online services and outreach for spiritual solace and support.”


Technology for Staying Connected

To help older adults feel involved, purposeful, and fewer lonely during the pandemic:

  • Show them a way to video chat with others using smartphones, laptops, or tablets.
  • Use apps on these devices to supply captions for adults with hearing challenges.
  • Encourage friends and family outside of your household to telephone, write notes, or send cards to lift your loved one’s spirits.


Keep elders involved

Arbaje recommends giving quarantined older adults a project they’ll work on. “Think about researching and organizing old photos and memorabilia together, and revel in the stories and happy memories they inspire. It may be an honest time for an elder to demonstrate cooking a favourite family recipe or share favorite songs or movies with people within the household.”


Minimize the danger of having coronavirus

Postpone unnecessary doctor visits. If an older adult in your care is feeling well, consider helping them postpone elective procedures, annual checkups, and other non-essential doctor visits.

Keep in mind that a lot of older people, especially those living with chronic illness, have important relationships with their caregivers. to assist them to stay in contact, ask their doctors’ offices if they provide telemedicine, which enables doctors and patients to speak over the video, email, or other means instead of face-to-face.

Avoid travel. Older adults should shelve non-essential travel, particularly cruises or trips with itineraries that might expose them to crowds.


Plan ahead

If you can, involve your older family member in discussions of how you’ll manage interruptions of routines and what will happen if they (or someone else in your family) becomes sick. Talking things through ahead of time as a family can reduce stress and help everyone feel more involved and prepared.

Pick an emergency contact. If you’re the most caregiver, designate someone nearby whom you’ll depend on to worry for your elderly friend if you yourself become ill.

Stock up. Gather one to a few months of medicines, and a minimum of two weeks’ worth of food, over-the-counter remedies, pet supplies, and other essentials. see which delivery services are available in your area.




This article originally appeared on: Hopkins Medicine

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