Those of us isolating at home with kids, spouses, and even roommates can enjoy the LUXURY of making flippant jokes about “having a little too much family time,” or “being fired from that new homeschooling position for napping on the job.”
Those of us who can get out in the Spring air for a walk or a jog have the LUXURY of complaining about “cabin fever” and how this quarantine is wrecking our waistlines.
Those of us who have access to technology to zoom and facetime our co-workers and friends have the LUXURY of turning off our cameras during calls because we are embarrassed by a messy hairdo.
Not everyone is so lucky.
While we complain and joke, tweet, and zoom, we must remember that there are real people, many of whom are “at-risk seniors” living at home all alone with no one to talk to, unable to get out for fresh air, and lacking the technology to even see a familiar face now and then.
While the virus itself will take the lives of so many, the social isolation of this quarantine will sadly lead to much more collateral loss. These tragic losses will go uncounted as “COVID-19 deaths.” However, they are distinctly related.
Loneliness increases the likelihood of death in the elderly
by 26 percent. And lacking social connections is as
damaging to a senior’s health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
How can you help?
1. Keep sending caregivers.
If it is safe to do so (and the client requests it) continue sending familiar caregivers to the home. Make sure the caregiver and the client have the PPE and infection control knowledge needed to keep them both safe.
2. Encourage social interaction during visits.
Caregivers should wear a mask and limit talking while in close contact and delivering personal care. This probably feels unnatural and awkward. So, encourage caregivers to take a few minutes to socialize from a safe distance before and after these duties, to put the client at ease and provide the important social interaction they need.
3. Provide and teach seniors how to use technology.
Statistics continue to show that more and more older adults have access to smartphones, tablets, and the internet. However, the problem isn’t owning them, it’s using them. Take time to teach clients how to use their devices for video chatting, email, texting, and even social media. Those that have a device and access to the internet can try some free online classes developed just for them. Click HERE for a list of free classes.
4. Do front porch visits.
For clients who refuse services at this time, offer “no contact” front porch visits. This is when a caregiver or volunteer visits and talks with the senior from a safe distance on the porch. This can include a delivery of groceries, or other needed supplies to make the trip more efficient.
5. Check-in every day.
If daily, in-person visits are out of the question, have someone call the client at a certain time every day – just to check in and chat. During these chats, try not to talk too much about the crisis. Ask about everyday things the person is interested in, such as “Are the flowers blooming in your yard now?” Or, “Have you put out your bird feeder yet?”
When will this all end?
It’s impossible to predict when this crisis will end and what the aftermath may be. But for certain, the way you care for the mental well being of clients during this time of isolation will have an impact on their lives and your reputation in the community for a long time after this virus is behind us.
Get Your FREE Coronavirus Training
We care about the health of all caregivers and the clients they serve. That’s why we made two important infection control courses (in English and Spanish) available to you COMPLETELY FREE!
If you are a current ITK customer . . .
Login to your portal HERE. Search your catalog for “Understanding Coronavirus” and assign it to your entire team.
Not an ITK e-learning subscriber?
Click HERE to request the free course.