Senior Caregiver Checklist During the COVID-19 Crisis
When it comes to COVID-19 (the novel coronavirus), it is essential to take steps to protect seniors, who are one of the most vulnerable groups. Home health aide services are more essential than ever, providing critical medical care and assistance to older adults while actively taking measures to reduce risks of exposure to this deadly virus.
Because caregivers work one-on-one with seniors who have underlying health conditions and need assistance with everyday tasks inside and outside the home, it is critical to follow a strict checklist to minimize risks of contracting COVID-19 and passing it on to the senior in your care. Here are some essential procedures to follow.
1.Protect Your Health
The following steps will help protect your health as a caregiver, reducing the chance of passing on this virus to the senior in your care:
- Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly for 20 seconds with soap and water, especially before and after providing care, making meals, and any contact with the public (collecting groceries, taking a delivery, etc.). If you’ve ever been a fan of medical dramas, now is the right time to imitate those surgeons as they scrub in for surgery!
- Avoid crowds and public spaces. Choose door-to-door delivery options whenever possible and stay at least six feet away from other people if you have to interact with the public. You can get a comprehensive guide to social/physical distancing from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes or mouth.
- Clean frequently touched surfaces often with disinfectant, including mobility equipment (walkers, canes, etc.), door handles, smartphones, and countertops.
2. Protect Your Senior’s Health
- Wear a mask when performing all caregiving duties. A 3-ply cotton mask is a workable option if you cannot get ahold of an N95 or KN95 mask. Remember not to touch your face or mask. If it is reusable, wash it on a high temperature setting after each use.
Your mask won’t necessarily stop you from getting COVID-19, but it will help prevent the spread of the virus if you do contract it. This is very important, as many people who test positive for COVID-19 have a very mild case and experience little or no symptoms. This makes it very easy to come into contact with COVID-19 and pass it on to someone more vulnerable.
- Limit outdoor activity. Depending on the restrictions in your area, seniors may be able to visit shops and public spaces. However, due to their very high-risk status, it is a good idea to keep your loved one at home to limit their exposure.
Even if they are active and fairly independent, the ordered in purchases and sanitize goods before giving them to your loved one. Ask your doctor about telehealth and telemedicine alternatives in place of routine doctor’s appointments in person, and stay fit with online classes rather than walking outdoors (unless you can do this while maintaining physical distancing). Stay in touch with family and friends with regular Skype or Zoom calls instead of physical meetups.
- Stay home if you are sick. As a caregiver, you have to be hyper-aware of your own health in order to avoid accidentally infecting your loved one.
This is not only about avoiding passing on COVID-19 (although that is clearly important), but also about helping your loved one to avoid any illness or infection in general, as this could result in a hospital stay (where infection risks are higher despite all precautions) and avoiding an overall weakened immune system (which increases your loved one’s vulnerability).
Wearing a mask will assist with this, but if you or any writing paper member of your household is ill, it is best to consider assistance from reputable home health aide agencies.