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7 Questions Family Caregivers Have About the COVID-19 Crisis


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KathyStressed.jpgFamily caregiving has always been demanding, but with quarantines and families confined at home, you may be feeling added stress. You’re likely juggling more than ever and facing extraordinary issues.

“Family caregivers should give their own health priority since you can’t be there for those you love unless you are well,” noted Home Instead Senior Care Gerontologist and Caregiver Advocate Lakelyn Hogan. “As you work to balance the demands of your life and strive to keep your families safe, remember to reach out to the many resources available to help during challenging days.”

Home Instead has compiled the following questions most frequently asked by family caregivers:

  1. Why are older adults at higher risk?
    Chronic diseases are more common with age, can compromise the immune system, and make people more vulnerable to serious complications. Older adults and others who are at high risk should heed the advice of the CDC, which includes staying home, washing hands often and keeping surfaces disinfected.

  2. When should a senior call a doctor?
    It’s important a senior contact a healthcare professional as soon as he or she suspects an exposure to COVID-19 and begins to develop symptoms. Many doctors are pre-screening for the virus, so contact the office before going in. If medical professionals suspect your loved one has the virus, he or she will need to follow doctor’s protocol to prevent the disease from spreading, according to the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.

  3. Can my children visit their grandparents?
    The answer to this question may depend, in part, on the prevalence of the virus in your community. Generally speaking, medical professionals, including Yale School of Medicine, say that older adults or those with chronic conditions should self-isolate even from family members. Even a child or family member who has no symptoms could be carrying the virus. Instead, consider Facetime or a drive-by visit.

  4. How can I help an isolated senior?
    This can be an unsettling time for older adults who are alone or isolated. Maintain regular contact, and make sure they have the food and medication they need. A senior-friendly tablet like GrandPad can help older adults stay connected to family and friends, play games and keep their minds occupied. Facetime and Zoom can help connect families in a virtual get-together. If your loved one is quarantined in a facility, ask about arranging visits with family through windows and balconies, video chats or phone calls, and handwritten notes.

  5. What can I do if my loved one is anxious?
    The state of the world today can create anxiety for those older adults who might already have been experiencing depression. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, encourage your loved one to take breaks from watching and reading the news, and following social media. Check out these tips for older adults from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

  6. I’m not technically in the high-risk group for coronavirus. Am I really in danger?
    According to the CDC, while the risk of dying was significantly higher for older people, nearly 40 percent of those sick enough to be hospitalized in the U.S. by the end of March 2020 were ages 20-54. If you’re not at high risk, you could still spread it to someone who is. Stay home, wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds and keep surfaces disinfected to help ensure you stay well for your loved ones.

  7. I’m trying to work remotely and balance care of my family and parents. I have never been more overwhelmed. What can I do?
    Being unable to reach out for help can put an extra strain on family caregivers. Do what you can to minimize stress at home. Some restaurants are offering great deals on take-out meals and deliveries. Consider grocery and pharmacy delivery or pick-up, or online shopping. Unwind with activities and hobbies, and take time to stay connected with family and friends. Remain in a routine and, if possible, get outdoors for a walk, while maintaining social distancing. Contact Home Instead Senior Care to learn how a CAREGiver could help your loved one at home by providing companionship, personal care and assistance with meals and household tasks.

Consider these additional resources for family caregivers:

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