Under ordinary circumstances, elderly individuals who live independently are encouraged to stay socially active because it provides them with many health benefits. However, Americans of all ages are currently at risk for being exposed to coronavirus, or “COVID-19”. For that reason, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have released preventative guidelines, including the practice of “social distancing”. As a potential lifesaver, social distancing is something that all seniors should do until the COVID-19 threat is over.
Why is COVID-19 Worse for the Elderly?
When you’re young and healthy, your body’s immune system protects you from foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses. But as the average person ages, their immune system gets weaker, making them more susceptible to catching illnesses like the flu, colds or COVID-19. And, once an elderly person becomes infected, their body can’t fight off illnesses as quickly as it once did.
Other factors that can weaken a senior’s immunity include:
- Lack of exercise
- Not sleeping enough
- Certain medications, like chemotherapy drugs
- Cigarette smoking
What is “Social Distancing”?
Social distancing is not the same as isolating or self-quarantining- two other practices that are now being used to help minimize the spread of COVID-19. In other words, and unlike being in isolation or self-quarantine, social distancing does not typically place a limit on locations one can travel to within a given geographic zone. It is more of a behavioral practice rather than a movement restriction.
While around other persons, examples of social distancing might include:
- Avoiding physical contact like kissing, hugging, shaking hands or sexual activity
- Covering one’s mouth when coughing or sneezing
- Not touching potentially contaminated surfaces
- Wearing a mask, eye protection and gloves
- Avoiding large crowds or crowded places
- Staying away from high-risk individuals at hospitals, nursing homes or family gatherings
Problems Caused by Social Distancing
In the past, social distancing was used to protect people from highly infectious diseases like leprosy and the bubonic plague. However, human beings are social creatures, which means social distancing can eventually cause harmful personal behaviors and emotional problems like:
- Anxiety and depression
- Lack of motivation
- Not exercising enough
- Poor eating habits
- Substance abuse
Social Distancing Tips for Seniors
If you’re an informal caregiver who’s looking after an aging in place senior during the COVID-19 pandemic, use these social distancing tips to be sure that you and your loved one are taking all the necessary precautions.
Activities that are fine:
- Going to the grocery or medical appointments during off-peak hours
- Taking outdoor walks in open areas
- Yardwork and gardening
- Spending one-on-one time with a loved one who isn’t showing any COVID-19 symptoms
Activities to avoid:
- Touching your nose, mouth, eyes or face without washing your hands first
- Going to a church, gym, theater, crowed store, mall, sporting event, concert, restaurant or bar
- Riding on airplanes, subways or buses
- Being around high-risk individuals at the hospital, cancer center or nursing home
- Large family gatherings like parties, weddings and funerals
Your Role as a Family Caregiver
Depending upon the overall health of your senior, as a family caregiver you may be asked to provide them with support for various activities of daily living, like hygiene, dressing, bill paying, medication management, meals, transportation or companionship. When you’re trying to keep your senior safe during an emergency but can’t get to their home, it may be necessary to hire a professional in-home caregiver to help-out for at least a little while.
We’re Like an Extended Family in Your Senior’s Home
Helping a senior loved one stay active while following social distancing guidelines can be challenging when you’re busy or live far away. When you need some assistance, contact Caring At Home. As a fully licensed and insured home care agency, our well-trained caregivers know how to keep seniors socially engaged safely so they can continue aging comfortably in place right at home. In addition, all our carefully screened caregivers stay constantly updated on the most recent COVID-19 prevention guidelines.
In addition to companionship, our reliable in-home caregivers can perform duties like light housework, personal hygiene, meals, food shopping, and medication management. And, all our family trusted home care services can be individually combined into an affordable package when and where you need them! To learn more about Caring At Home today, or to schedule an initial interview for a senior in our service area today, please call or visit us online.