Editor’s notes: Rather than long-winded expressions of concern – which is what seems to be occurring regularly from airlines to grocery stores and everything in between, PPAHS will present coronavirus briefs. We hope that you find this brief on tips for caregivers to be useful and just long enough to be of interest.
The quandary for caregivers during the current Covid-19 crisis is the conflicting recommendations demanding social distancing and the need to make sure that the person that they are caring for is still receiving the attention and care that they need.
Here are 5 steps you can take as a caregiver:
Step #1: Keep Yourself Well – While this may sound selfish, if you get sick, then you will no longer be able to be helpful. This is very much like the instructions you have doubtless heard on airplanes about oxygen masks and life vests – put yours on before helping others … As Alicia Arbaje, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D. (Director of Transitional Care Research, Associate Professor of Medicine, Johns Hopkins Medicine) recommends for caregivers
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after providing care, preparing food, using the bathroom, or touching surfaces in public 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 used by your loved one, such as walkers, canes and handrails.”
Step #2: Limit Visits – Limit visits. Check with the facility where the patient is staying before visiting. For example, UCSF Health has restricted visitors, saying:
- Patients and their loved ones must designate a single individual who will be the point of contact for all information and conversations with the care team.
- The designated point of contact will be responsible for sharing information with other family members or loved ones that should have this information.
- The designated point of contact will hear from a member of the care team at least once a day for regular updates, or more frequently if there are significant changes in the condition of the patient or their care.
- Some exceptions may apply as determined by the caregiving team.
Step #3: Use Technology – Now is a good time to use technological options – such as video chats, FaceTiming, or even just a phone call – to limit in-person interactions. Here are some benefits to using technology with seniors. Remember, be patient when teaching and first using any new technologies.
Step #4: Look up Disease-Specific Management Advice – If the person you are caring for is managing any diseases, look up disease-specific advice from respected sources. For example:
- For dementia patients, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, dementia is likely not an increased risk for Covid-19 – “Most likely, dementia does not increase risk for COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus, just like dementia does not increase risk for flu. However, dementia-related behaviors, increased age and common health conditions that often accompany dementia may increase risk.”
- For patients with high blood pressure – the American College of Cardiology, American Heart Association, and Heart Failure Society of America recommend that you keep taking your high blood pressure medicine as prescribed.
- For patients with diabetes, Glooko is offering at no-charge a remote-care solution that provides live patient-to-clinician connectivity. Other device manufacturers may be offering the same thing, check their websites.
Perhaps that may seem obvious to some, but hearing it from a respected source may relieve some stress and anxiety.
Step #5: Don’t Do It Alone – A great resource for caregivers is the Caregiver Action Network. In particular, see their resource page for caregivers during the Covid-19 crisis – https://caregiveraction.org/covid-19
Please share any helpful hints or resources in the comment section below.