There is still much to learn about Coronavirus (COVID-19). Fortunately, and with much appreciation to the hardworking men and women on the front lines of healthcare and research, we do know some crucial information that can help us act accordingly. For example, we know older individuals — and those with other medical conditions — are at a higher risk of exposure and illness from COVID-19.
Knowing this can cause individuals with older family members to worry and feel unsure what to do to best protect their senior loved ones. The team here at Weatherly Inn understands that burden, and we want to do the best we can to help in this difficult time. That's why we've put together a guide for seniors, their families, and caregivers to stay safe throughout the pandemic situation.
We'll assume you know the basics about minimizing the coronavirus outbreak — like how important it is to wash your hands often, use hand sanitizer, limit close-contact interactions, and practice social distancing. But it's also essential to reach out to our elderly loved ones more often to keep them engaged.
Here, we'll look a little deeper at COVID-19 and seniors. We'll touch on the value of technology, and explain how you can take a virtual tour of senior care facilities online. We'll also remind you of other ways you can limit your senior loved one's COVID risks by handling some of their errands and limiting their exposure.
First, let's make sure they're getting Coronavirus news from the right sources.
Consult the Coronavirus Experts
Mainstream news media is designed to keep us watching. And aside from emotionally charged views and rhetoric surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic, there isn't much new information about COVID-19 from health officials. Not yet, at least.
Mind Their Media
- Be sure your senior loved one is limiting their TV news. Thirty minutes to one hour per day is plenty.
- If they're trying to do Coronavirus research, make sure they're getting accurate information from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), the World Health Organization (WHO), or Johns Hopkins University (JHU).
- Explain to your family member that it can be hard to distinguish between fact and fiction on the internet.
- If you suspect they're getting frightened or overwhelmed with pandemic news, gently distract them with a lighthearted video or a snack.
Everyone on the planet has had their life turned upside-down by the pandemic. Remind your loved one that we're all in it together, and try to keep the mood positive. As an entertaining distraction, consider teaching them to use other technology and games.
Teach Your Older Family Members About Technology
Modern devices like iPods, tablets, laptops, and large screen cell phones can be incredibly valuable learning and exploration devices for seniors. During the ordinary course of things, we might get "sucked-in" to too much surfing and gaming. But throughout the Coronavirus pandemic, these time-suckers have become the primary form of communication, education, and entertainment.
We've blogged about the value of tech for seniors already. It's a terrific distraction, but never a replacement for human interaction.
- An entertaining session of Candy Crush Saga or Bejeweled might take their mind off things. Just be sure to use parental controls on the device to limit in-game purchases.
- Make sure to maintain simple but frequent communication. Phone calls and texting can go a long way for a senior experiencing loneliness.
New Tech Is Springing Up Around Coronavirus
Facebook and Zoom have created new online meeting apps. Create a family "group" for virtual meetings, and teach your aging parent or grandparent how to use them.
Zoos, museums, and aquariums have set up live webcams and virtual tours to entertain the public, educate homeschooled children, and keep us interested. You can also research senior living communities like Weatherly Inn using virtual tours.
Take a Virtual Tour
If you're wondering if this is the right time to move your loved one into a senior living community or nursing home, the best way to start your research is with a virtual tour. Not only will you distract your family member from the pandemic situation, but you can also learn about independent or assisted living options and memory care facilities. We also provide day and respite care for those times when caregivers need some time away — whether it's for recreation or emergencies.
Senior Living During the COVID-19 Pandemic
The senior living industry in the US is the finest in the world. We are already proud to maintain high standards of excellence and senior care. Since the pandemic, we've been focusing even more caution, prevention, and well-being.
New protocols at Weatherly include:
- Stricter limits on non-essential visits to keep everyone in the facility safer.
- Extensive visitor screenings that ensure visitors are healthy and fever-free.
- Frequent temperature checks for all care providers, staff and residents to detect an infected person early
- Educating our residents on updated public health guidelines and protocols
Thankfully, technology has made it easier than ever to research the senior living options available.
Research Senior Care Communities Online
Many communities provide in-person tours while taking necessary precautions, like taking temperatures, hand-washing and sanitizing, and limiting tours to specific areas of a community.
At Weatherly Inn, we believe an online tour is the best way to begin your senior care search right now. While we look forward to longer, in-depth meetings and in-person visits in the future, you can get a feel for our community from the safety of your home. Take our virtual tour as often as you like, and jot down any questions you could have. Then contact us to learn more!
And finally, let's consider a few ways you can help seniors reduce their risk of contracting Coronavirus.
Helping Your Loved One With Daily Errands
Social distancing has been especially difficult for the elderly. Unable to visit with friends, go shopping, or attend worship services, we believe they've felt the strain of COVID-19 and social isolation more than any other segment of the population. Limiting your family member's activities can inevitably lead to feelings of lonliness and depression (we've written more about senior isolation in our blog).
We know you've heard about face masks, hand washing, and disinfection of common surfaces like remote controls and doorknobs.
As high-risk individuals, it's incredibly important to your family member's overall health that we limit their exposure to Coronavirus!
Help your loved one reduce their risk by:
- Handling the grocery shopping, pharmacy trips, and visits to big box stores like Walmart for them
- Visiting the post office or other PO Box, and tossing the junk mail for them
- Fueling their vehicle at the gas station
- Taking them to doctor appointments, but waiting in the car with them until they're called in
- Handling other necessary appointments — like the veterinarian or tax preparation — in person on their behalf
In light of Coronavirus, many organizations are willing to work more over the phone. If your family member can pay their utilities over the phone rather than in person, now is the time to help them do that.
We hope this discussion of senior living and Coronavirus has been helpful. As always, feel free to contact us with any questions about independent or assisted senior living programs in Washington, memory care, or day and respite care. We look forward to hearing from you!
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