The Covid-19 pandemic has affected all of us in many ways, but the elderly have undoubtedly been affected more than most, largely due to advice from government scientists emphasising the increased danger to older people particularly those with underlying illnesses.
This has resulted in many elderly people becoming too frightened to take part in normal life, for example going shopping, seeing loved ones or even just venturing outdoors. So, the question for many that provide home care services is how to address these fears in a way that their elderly patient can enjoy their daily life without fear and at the same time alleviate any worries which family and friends may have.
If your care patient receives elderly care in their own home these guidelines could help.
Government advice has focused on cleanliness as the most effective way to combat the virus so carers should establish a regular hand-washing routine. Hands of all residents and visitors should be washed thoroughly several times a day.
It is advisable that elderly people and their main carers avoid crowds wherever possible and, although government guidelines now allow visits from close family or friends these should be strictly regulated and limited. If any visitors report sickness they should keep away.
Should the main carers become sick there should be a backup care plan in place, and this should be discussed with close family members to decide who should provide alternative care; this should be delegated to one person only if possible to avoid any possibility of the elderly patient coming into contact with the virus.
Always have plenty of supplies of groceries and medications in the home, and arrange deliveries of these, to cut down unnecessary visits to shops and health centres.
From the start of the pandemic the public were advised against going to hospitals and GP surgeries however these restrictions have now eased slightly. Even so, some elderly people are still understandably concerned about the risk so, for upcoming hospital checkups it may be feasible to contact the hospital to ask whether the appointment could be postponed providing the patient is generally fit and well. Many GP and hospital services can be accessed via the internet or over the phone.
Maximum precautions should be taken here especially if the elderly patient has underlying illness. Avoid public transport where you can and if the patient wishes to go out make sure they wear a face covering to minimise the risk to their health.
Isolation has been the biggest worry for many elderly people so keep open the lines of communication with family, friends and health care workers with Skype, Zoom, phone calls and even letters to keep up their spirits.
Make sure the patient stays as mobile as possible within the home by devising a series of gentle and fun activities for both physical and mental wellbeing.
Finally, if there is a possibility that the elderly patient has been exposed to the virus waste no time in contacting the NHS 111 online service (or phone them) for advice.