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Tempted to go out? Here’s what family caregivers can do instead


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Perhaps you have a little extra time on your hands now that you’re self-isolating. Could be a great opportunity to convene your book club. Or maybe you’re missing the regular gym workouts you’ve relied on to alleviate stress. You’ve heard a lot of your friends are headed to a popular walking trail. Sounds like a fun idea. After all, only older people are at a big risk for coronavirus, right? Not so.

A recent USA TODAY analysis of data reported by 19 states shows that Americans of all ages seem to be equally susceptible to a coronavirus infection. States are reporting cases in every age range, though people in their 50s had slightly more confirmed cases on average.

Any project, hobby or other diversion that takes you to places where people are frequenting to get supplies or exercise carries risk, no matter what your age, many experts note.

“Family caregivers often tend to worry about everyone but themselves,” noted Home Instead Senior Care Gerontologist and Caregiver Advocate Lakelyn Hogan. “While statistics are showing that the coronavirus disease could have a deadlier impact on the elderly, no one is immune. That’s why everyone – including family caregivers – are being asked to heed the warning of experts to self-isolate, practice social distancing of at least 6 feet, and wash hands and disinfect surfaces regularly to help flatten the curve.”  

The spread of COVID-19 (the coronavirus) has taken off since the first U.S. case was identified in Washington state on Jan. 21. By March 17, the virus had expanded its presence from several isolated clusters in Washington, New York and California to all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

But, in spite of statistics and warnings, you’ve got to keep your sanity, right? Here are ways to get what you need, physically, socially, emotionally and spiritually without putting yourself (and others) at risk:

  • Get creative to stay active. So maybe you shouldn’t go to that busy trail crowded with other walkers. Fitness instructors have gotten creative during this health emergency.  Check out this Facebook Live Chat to learn innovative ways the Curves: Women’s Health and Fitness Clubs is helping individuals stay fit during the COVID-19 crisis. Free online class options are available elsewhere as well.
  • Stay socially connected. Social distancing doesn’t mean social isolation. Humans are wired to live in community. We need each other.  Skype and FaceTime can help you stay in touch with friends. If you’re part of a group, consider organizing your people via the free Zoom meeting platform. Members can join by audio, video or both. Whether it’s a men’s or women’s faith group, a friends’ virtual happy hour or a way to keep a hobby going with like-minded people, such as a book club, technology exists to keep your social life moving in spite of a pandemic.
  • Think outside the box to get what you need. While this can be a great time to focus on home improvement projects, investigate other methods to get what you need in the way of supplies. Consider online ordering from outlets such as Amazon. Or, support local businesses that are willing to do curb-side pick-up.
  • Find peace and joy. Mental, emotional and spiritual well-being are just as important as physical health. Some counselors are offering phone or Skype/FaceTime consultations. Contact your local faith community via phone or online to learn the services they may be offering to help you cope with the current crisis. Many organizations are providing weekly worship services via webcam. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides these tips including a Disaster Distress Helpline.
  • If you’re a caregiver, protect yourself. If you’re providing hands-on care to a senior, be sure to protect both you and your loved one from illness. These CDC guidelines are a good reminder of the kinds of things you should be doing daily.

To learn more about how Home Instead could help you or someone for whom you are caring, reach out to a Home Instead office near you.

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Home Instead offers free monthly newsletters with tips and advice for caregivers of elderly loved ones. (Privacy Policy)

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