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5 Important Questions to Ask Seniors During Social Distancing

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Kathy+and+grandkids+skyping+with+senior_16.jpgWith seniors among the most vulnerable individuals during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) emergency, authorities have stressed the importance of checking on older adults. Isolation is a main concern, leading to the potential for health issues as well as depression.

If you can’t be there personally, touch base via phone or video chat. “Emotional and mental health along with physical issues can come into play when seniors are alone,” noted Home Instead Gerontologist and Caregiver Advocate Lakelyn Hogan.

The most important questions to ask to find out how a senior is really doing

  1. How are you feeling physically? Try to gauge how the individual is doing physically. Are you feeling ill, Dad? Do you have a temperature? Or, (if the individual doesn’t have access to a thermometer), do you feel warm? Do you have a cough or sore throat? These are all potential symptoms of COVID-19 (the Coronavirus), but they could be symptoms of other conditions and viruses too. Don’t assume the worst but, if you are concerned about a loved one’s health, reach out to that person’s medical team for direction.
  2. Do you have enough food, supplies and medications? It might not be advisable for a senior to go to the store. If you cannot be there to assist a senior at the grocery or pharmacy, help your loved one access online shopping and deliveries or encourage them to take advantage of special hours some retailers and grocery stores are offering to older adults. These tips can help older adults prepare to be home for a while.
  3. Are you feeling worried or anxious? Remind your loved one that the coronavirus situation will improve. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages the following ways to stay healthy including a well-balanced diet and stress relievers such as deep breaths, and praying or meditating.
  4. Are you having trouble sleeping? Anxiety can lead to sleep problems. Encourage your senior to take breaks from watching, reading and listening to the news, which can fuel the type of anxiety that could lead to sleepless night. If the senior in your life continues to have sleep problems, contact their health provider.
  5. What do you need help doing? With limited access to services, perhaps the older adult in your life has things going on at home they need help completing. Are bills piling up? Are there maintenance issues in the house? Do they need help with yardwork? Ask about those issues and try to solve for them.  

Staying in regular touch with a senior during self-isolation and asking the right questions can help ensure your loved one remains physically, mentally and emotionally healthy.

Author: Lakelyn Hogan

Lakelyn Hogan is Gerontologist and Caregiver Advocate for Home Instead Senior Care. Lakelyn has been with Home Instead for five years, starting in the local franchise working one-on-one with seniors and caregivers. Now, her role at the Global Headquarters is to educate professionals, families and communities on Home Instead’s services and the issues older adults face. In partnership with the American Society on Aging, Lakelyn facilitates a monthly webinar series for professionals in the aging field. She also hosts monthly family caregiver live chats with Alzheimer’s and dementia experts from across the country.


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