At this time, adults 65 years or older seem to be at a higher risk for serious complications from COVID-19. According to the World Health Organization, more than 95% of all deaths recorded were among people over the age of 60. A third of those deaths occurred in long-term care facilities.
As advocates for the elderly, CareLink is dedicated to bridging the gap in communication and care, and to combating ageism during the pandemic.
Why Seniors Are At Risk
Seniors are uniquely at risk of contracting coronavirus. Due to health concerns often brought about by advanced age, many seniors are typically more vulnerable to colds, flu, and other maladies. COVID-19 is particularly aggressive, transfers from person to person, or from surface to person very easily, and can have a relatively long incubation period of up to 14 days. Having a lengthy incubation period means that one can make others sick during that duration, even if they’re not exhibiting symptoms.
Anyone with a compromised immune system should make an effort to stay socially distanced from others. CareLink is shifting its policies in accordance with the CDC guidelines for in-home visits, while still remaining dedicated to the communities it serves.
Fighting Stress And Loneliness
When everyone in the world is trying their best to practice safe social distancing, even younger demographics are feeling the effects of stress and loneliness. That’s why it’s particularly important to do what we can to minimize the damage that isolation can cause for a population already at a disadvantage for social engagement. CareLink’s Meals on Wheels program has continued to provide over-the-phone check-ins for those clients who have had to forego their daily visits from our staff or volunteers.
Unfortunately, our volunteer program is currently suspended as we do our part to prevent the spread of COVID-19. CareLink is also dedicated to continuing essential in-home care to those who need it, bringing much-needed relief to family caregivers during this stressful time.
We encourage able family members to utilize various free resources to help the elders in their lives stay connected. Apple’s Facetime and Zoom conferencing have become popular ways to relieve loneliness, boredom, and isolation while staying in the safety of your own home.
Long Term Care Facilities
For those with friends or family in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, your concern is understandable. Due to the social nature of these facilities, they’re at a much higher risk of proliferating the virus than in-home care options. Although our Ombudsmen are still advocating for nursing home residents in safe ways, we’ve suspended our volunteer program within nursing homes and other long-term care housing to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. Additionally, friends and family are not permitted inside congregate living spaces like these to keep everyone (both staff and residents) safe.
Nursing facilities have been instructed to assign at least one individual with infection prevention and control (IPC) training to help guide staff and those in their care on best practices during the pandemic.
We are monitoring the situation and following updated guidelines for returning to normal operating procedures as they’re released.
How To Prepare If You Are Higher Risk
Aside from the obvious practices of washing your hands and practicing social distancing, developing a care plan is also a good safety measure. A care plan is a summary of a person’s health conditions, along with the current treatments they’re receiving. It also includes useful information like a list of medications, current healthcare providers, emergency contacts, and other resources for caregivers.
While always a good idea to keep a current care plan, during the pandemic it can become a critical resource if you or an elderly loved one becomes ill. At this time, hospitals are not admitting visitors (family members or otherwise), and having a complete and up-to-date care plan will help nurses and doctors quickly learn about you if you’re unable to respond yourself.
The CDC has created a printable Complete Care Plan that can be filled out digitally or by hand for your convenience.