Experts have told us that older adults are a vulnerable population to the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. If you have aging parents, supporting them during social distancing can be a challenge.
You may need to take some creative measures to keep them safe at home. Here are six ways you can support your aging loved ones during the Pandemic.
Good nutrition is key to staying healthy and independent. Before the COVID-19 outbreak, you may have been helping your aging parents get nutritious meals. While they may still need assistance with meals, you want to limit your contact with them to reduce the risk of exposure.
Consider preparing meals ahead of time and limiting the number of trips you take to their home. Sanitize areas in your home where you prepare meals, food containers, and your vehicle before delivering food. Wear clean clothes and protective items when you drop off meals.
You could also set your aging parents up with a home-delivered meal service that reduces contact. For example, Meals on Wheels of Northeast Ohio has changed its services during the Pandemic to protect seniors. The organization is providing shelf-stable meals every other week and has issued no-contact delivery procedures.
If your aging loved ones are still preparing meals at home, you may want to shop for them. Or, encourage them to shop at stores during times designated for seniors. Take proper sanitary measures before, during, and after your trip to the store.
Do you help your aging parents manage their finances? If you frequently visit their home and help them write out checks, consider switching to an online bill paying system. You may be able to set up online billing with a three-way call between yourself, your parents, and the financial institution.
Now more than ever, it’s important that you learn about your aging loved ones’ healthcare information. Be sure that you have access to their doctors’ contact information, understand any medications they take, and know about any allergies they may have.
Do your parents know about virtual medical visits? Their insurance may offer health consultations over the phone or video chat. This can help seniors avoid having to visit the doctor’s office while getting the care they need.
Socialization is an important factor when it comes to mental and physical health. In a time of social distancing, introduce your aging loved ones to new ways to interact with others.
Call and check in on them often, and encourage them to call their friends and neighbors. If your parents can use video chatting, set up a time for “virtual socializing”.
If your community has a phone check-in program, it’s worth looking into. For example, VANTAGE RSVP’s Telecare program matches volunteers with seniors to provide friendly phone calls regularly. This is a great way to build relationships without putting anyone at risk.
Make sure that your aging parents understand what is going on and how to protect themselves. Talk through the facts of the Pandemic and teach them how to be safe. While they may have a lifetime of experience, some things can be overlooked, such as cleaning doorknobs and light switches.
Be sure to express the importance of social distancing without instilling unnecessary fear. Encourage your aging parents to take up a new hobby or activity around the house and to limit time in front of the TV.
While they may not be able to do all of the things they enjoy, it’s important to keep moving. A walk around the block or doing a puzzle are great ways to keep the body and brain active.
Your aging parents may have a lot of fear about COVID-19. Stress can weaken an immune system and be harmful to a person’s wellbeing.
Talk with your aging loved ones about how while the situation is serious, it is temporary. Let them know that everything will be OK, you and your family are OK, and taking precautionary measures such as social distancing and sanitizing often will help prevent the spread of the virus.
Right now, times are strange and uncertain. But, we will come out on the other side with a new understanding of closeness and responsibility. Until then, stay safe while you are home and supporting your aging loved ones.
Do you need help supporting an aging parent during the Pandemic? Meals on Wheels of Northeast Ohio is enrolling new clients in Stark, Summit, and Wayne Counties. Safely receive shelf-stable meals every other week while having no contact with delivery people. Also receive friendly, check-in phone calls from people who care.
*The information in this article is intended solely to provide general information on matters of interest for the personal use of the reader, who accepts full responsibility for its use. This article should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional legal, medical, or other competent advisors.