If you are a caregiver for an elderly loved one, you now have one more concern to add to your list—the potential for airborne exposure to the COVID-19 virus. While focusing on prevention is very important, keeping your loved one completely safe from this virus may not be possible. Caring for a loved one with COVID in Clarksville can feel isolating, but we’re here to help.
Visiting community gathering places such as nursing homes, doctor’s offices, churches, and grocery stores can increase your risk of contracting the novel coronavirus. At the same time, your loved one still deserves to have a social life and certain places are completely unavoidable if your loved one is to keep up with their health and well-being. This increases the likelihood that, at some point, you will have to care for your senior loved one while they have COVID-19.
Continue reading for a quick guide on how to care for someone in a high-risk category when they contract COVID-19. For additional information, contact the Area Agency on Aging of West Central Arkansas, and we will gladly put you in touch with the services and programs you need to care for your loved one.
Caring for a Loved One with COVID-19 at Home
The first and the best thing you can do as a caregiver is to take as many preventative steps as possible. This includes making sure you and your loved one are vaccinated, practicing social distancing when possible, and socializing selectively.
However, we understand that this can be restrictive, isolating, and, ultimately, not always possible. There is no such thing as 100% prevention.
If your loved one does contract COVID-19, do not spend precious time beating yourself up about it. Guilt will not make your loved one feel better. Instead, focus on providing them with the medical attention and care that they need. It is vital that you see a doctor as soon as you notice symptoms of the novel coronavirus. If your loved one develops complications that are allowed to go unchecked, they could experience permanent side effects or even death.
Listen to Your Doctor
If your loved one has the following symptoms of COVID-19, contact your doctor:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- Loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
If your loved one is diagnosed with COVID-19, the doctor will give you specific care instructions based on their condition, current medications, etc.
The doctor may recommend quarantine, personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks or surgical gowns, special medications to alleviate symptoms, or an increase in rest. Follow these care instructions to the letter for the best results. If you are concerned about anything in particular, discuss your concerns with your doctor and include him/her in every step of the treatment and recovery process.
Create a Safe and Serene Environment
If you are caring for a loved one with COVID-19, it is important to create a space for your loved one where they can rest and recuperate away from anyone else in the family. If they already live alone, ensure that you are making their home as comfortable and easily navigable as possible.
It is best if your loved one has access to their own bathroom and bedroom—one not shared with the other members of the household. If they have mobility issues, consider using a ground-floor room.
Additionally, you should inform any other medical professionals or caregivers about their diagnosis and encourage them to take precautionary measures when coming in contact with your loved one. Make sure you are following the same guidelines yourself. Remember, you cannot fully care for your loved one if you are sick.
Practicing social distancing and wearing your PPE helps prevent you (the caregiver) from contracting the coronavirus and possibly re-infecting your high-risk loved one or others in your household.
Select a Primary Caregiver
This will be easier to achieve if you are the only person caring for your loved one. But if there are other family members, friends, or community members lending a hand, ensure that each individual is limiting contact as much as possible. For the duration of quarantine, select a primary caregiver who will enter the home and care for your loved one’s personal needs and daily living activities.
This person will bring them their meals, check in on them, assist them with personal and hygiene tasks, etc. Making sure that you are fully vaccinated and using PPE such as masks and protective clothing will help to prevent you from falling ill.
We are not recommending that you care for your loved one all alone. Do not send everyone else away! Designate them with different tasks. Ask for help with yard work, carpooling, cooking, etc. Allow the people around you to continue supporting you at this time while still limiting the risk to both them and your loved one.
Prevent the Spread
The coronavirus is spread through respiratory droplets in the air. Outside, these droplets are usually whisked away by the wind rather quickly. But in poorly ventilated spaces, they can linger for hours. Increase ventilation wherever possible—open windows, turn on the air conditioning, etc. You can also use antibacterial and antiviral sprays such as Lysol to help eliminate droplets remaining in the air.
One quick, simple way to prevent the spread of the virus is to regularly disinfect high-touch areas of your home. Doorknobs, bathrooms, counters, phones, light switches, etc., should be wiped down regularly with antibacterial wipes, Lysol, or other cleaning products. This keeps you and other caregivers safe, which means your loved one will be better cared for.
Bring in a Professional
If you are also in a high-risk category—if you are over 65, pregnant, disabled, or have asthma or other lung issues—or even if you just cannot afford to be sick right now, consider hiring a professional caregiver to look after your loved one while they have COVID-19.
Reach Out to Local Resources
Caregivers who are caring for a loved one with COVID-19 in Clarksville, Arkansas, and looking for resources can reach out to the Area Agency on Aging of West Central Arkansas. We are here to ensure that your loved one receives all the help and care that they need to recover and return to good health!