If you’re the caregiver for an aging loved one, another worry has been added to your plate—their exposure to COVID-19. While prevention is key, the reality is that it’s not possible to reduce their risk of contracting such a widespread virus to zero.
Hospitals, nursing homes, senior centers, grocery stores, and doctor’s offices are all community gathering places that increase their chances of contracting the virus. Although we know these places are not entirely safe, your loved one can’t stop going to the doctor or be completely cut off from their social life. Adding to this, the susceptibility of the elderly to COVID-19, and hence the likelihood that you may have to care for your loved one while they have the disease, is relatively high.
That’s why we’ve created this guide to caring for a family member with COVID-19. Read on to learn how to care for someone with COVID-19 who belongs to a special population, such as senior citizens, people with disabilities, or people with pre-existing conditions.
If you’re caring for a loved one with COVID-19 in West Memphis, contact the East Arkansas Area Agency on Aging. We can put you in touch with the care services and programs you and your loved one need.
Treating COVID-19 at Home
The best thing you can do as a caregiver is to try to prevent the contraction of the virus in the first place. Vaccination, social distancing, and selective socializing are key to prevention. However, we know that success isn’t guaranteed—there is no such thing as 100% safe.
If a loved one does contract the virus, don’t waste time blaming yourself or feeling guilty. It’s important that you help them receive the medical care and attention they need as soon as possible to prevent lasting side effects or even death.
Follow Your Doctor’s Instructions
If your loved one is showing symptoms of COVID-19 such as:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
Please take them to the doctor as soon as possible. If they’re diagnosed with COVID-19, your doctor will give you specific care instructions based on your loved one’s condition and current medications.
Your loved one may need to isolate, wear PPE (personal protective equipment, e.g., a mask), take preventative medications, or increase their rest. Follow your doctor’s instructions to the letter for the best results. If you have questions or concerns, discuss them with the doctor thoroughly.
Create a Peaceful and Safe Environment
When you’re caring for a loved one with COVID-19 in West Memphis, it’s vital that you create a space where they can recuperate safely away from the rest of the family. If they live alone, make sure that you and all medical personnel are appropriately distancing and wearing face masks for your own safety.
Remember that, if you fall ill, you will not be able to properly care for your loved one. Also, if you contract the virus, there is the possibility that you will re-infect them once they get better if you’re not careful. So limit your contact and practice safe social distancing.
It’s best if your loved one has access to their own bedroom and bathroom—not shared with the rest of the house. If they have mobility issues, consider using a floor-level room.
Designate One Primary Caregiver
You may already be your loved one’s sole caregiver but, if not, you should discuss limiting their contact with family and friends. Limiting the patient’s contact will reduce the risk of further spreading COVID-19 in your family.
Choose one person to check on the patient, bring them their meals, and assist them with their daily tasks of living. It may be wise for this caregiver to wear PPE, such as a mask, gloves, and a gown, as an additional safety measure.
Please understand that we are NOT recommending that you dismiss any necessary medical personnel or take on the care of your loved one alone. That will lead to stress, burnout, and accidents. Instead, ensure that only one person is making physical contact with them while other caregivers and family members can be delegated such tasks as cooking, yard work, cleaning, and socializing virtually.
Disinfect Your Loved One’s Home
When you are caring for someone with COVID-19, disinfecting their home, as well as yours, should always be a top priority. Sanitize hard, high-touch surfaces often. Doorknobs, countertops, phones, etc., can all harbor germs and speed transmission.
The coronavirus is transmitted through the air and can linger for a few hours in poorly ventilated spaces. Open windows and increase ventilation wherever possible. You can also use Lysol sprays to reduce infectious droplets.
Hire a Professional Caregiver
If you are yourself in a protected category, if you’re pregnant, or if you just can’t afford to fall ill right now, there is absolutely no shame in hiring a professional caregiver to care for your loved one while they have COVID-19.
Contact the East Arkansas Area Agency on Aging for more information about home care services. We’ll put you in touch with the right programs and services for you and your loved one.
Caring For Loved One With COVID in West Memphis
If you’re caring for an elderly loved one with COVID-19 in West Memphis and you have questions or need help, contact the East Arkansas Area Agency on Aging. We are here to ensure that your loved one receives all the help and care they need to pull through and return to good health!