While a coronavirus vaccine is in distribution, the virus is still spreading. You and your loved ones may still be at risk of contracting the virus, and if that happens, we want you to feel prepared. We know that the diagnosis can be scary, especially if a parent or older loved one has the virus. However, there are many things that you can do to support your parent and help them return to health. In this post, we will explore what you can do if you are living with your loved one and if you don’t live with your loved one.
Living with a Parent with COVID-19
If you live with your elderly parent and they contract COVID-19, it’s important that you take precautions to ensure that the virus doesn’t spread to yourself or to other individuals in the home. Here are tips on how you can assist your parent at home.
Follow the Doctor’s Instructions
If you have a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, then you will likely have specific instructions from a doctor on how to care for your loved one. This may include isolation, wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), and other instructions. You should always adhere to the doctor’s advice first and foremost.
Create a Safe Environment for Your Loved One
In order to keep yourself and your loved one safe, it’s important that you create a separate environment for your parent. This space should be comfortable and have access to amenities they might need, including a bathroom and a bed. Limit the contact that your parent has with other individuals in the household and adhere to social distancing guidelines when possible. Keeping your loved one isolated within the home can help reduce the potential spread of the virus.
Designate a Family Caregiver
If your loved one is recovering at home, then it’s important to designate one family member to care for them. This person should be someone who is not in a high-risk category for COVID-19. This family caregiver should be the only person to have direct contact with your parent. They can assist with tasks of daily living, like bathing, using the bathroom, brushing teeth, etc. However, this family member should wear clean PPE for each interaction. PPE may include gloves, a face mask, and even a gown to protect them from contracting the virus.
Designating a family caregiver doesn’t mean that this individual is the only one who will help. In fact, caring for your loved one should involve multiple family members to avoid burnout on a single person. However, this family caregiver should be the only one to come in direct contact with your parent. That leaves other individuals to help with cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, and performing other tasks to assist.
Disinfect the Home
When caring for your loved one at home, you must sanitize and disinfect surfaces often — even if your parent has been isolated to a specific room in the home. Studies have shown that the virus can survive for a few hours in the air and on hard surfaces within the home. Common surfaces to disinfect include tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, and more.
Wash Your Hands Often
Even if you are not the one directly caring for your parent, you should wash your hands frequently. Make sure to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds and scrub between your fingers and even around your nails. Try to wash your hands if you have come into direct or indirect contact with your loved one and wash your hands before eating or touching your face.
Caring for a Parent with COVID-19 from Afar
Not all of us have the chance to live with our parents and help them as they age. If your loved one contracts COVID-19 and you aren’t able to be with them, there are still ways that you can help them.
Hire a Professional Caregiver
To ensure that your loved one receives the personalized care and attention they need to recover, we recommend hiring a professional caregiver. This person can help nurse your loved ones back to health while adhering to infection control guidelines. A professional caregiver should be able to provide all of the services that you would provide your loved one if you were there — laundry, cleaning, meals, companionship, etc.
At Caring Senior Service, all of our caregivers are screened for COVID-19 and are specifically trained to care for clients with spreadable infections and illnesses. With a professional caregiver in the home, you can feel more at peace knowing that your parent is receiving the care they need.
As your parent battles the virus, you can stay connected with them and those caring for them. You can be involved in their care even if you aren’t physically present. At Caring Senior Service, we make this easy with our Tendio Family Portal. You can review visit notes, see care plans, and stay up to date on your parent’s condition.
You can also call your parent if they are feeling up to it. A call or video chat with you could raise their spirits and help them have a more positive outlook as they recover. You may also want to involve the rest of your family as well and hold family meetings regularly during this time.
Don’t Go on a Guilt Trip
You may find yourself feeling guilty for not being able to care for your parent when they need you. But don’t entertain these thoughts! This type of guilt is not productive. We recognize that this can be a very stressful time, but it’s important to focus on what you can do to be helpful instead of reflecting on what you can’t do.
We hope that these tips help you and your family as you face the uncertainty around COVID-19. For more tips on how to care for a parent diagnosed with COVID-19 and reduce the spread of infection, refer to our Caregiver Infection Control Checklist.