Top Five Practical Ways To Keep Older Adults Safe During Coronavirus

You’ve stockpiled masks and Purell, washed your hands a million times and developed a sixth sense for determining how far someone is standing from you.

But no matter how many precautions you take for yourself, you still worry about the health and well-being of your older loved ones. And for good reason. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), our risk of getting severely ill from COVID-19 increases with age.

To help your loved one manage their risk, while also putting your mind at ease, we’ve compiled a list of practical steps you can take right away to keep the older adults in your life stay safe, connected and calm.

1. Be Honest and Direct

Start by talking to your loved one about your concerns, especially if they are skeptical about the severity of COVID-19 and/or the importance of preventative measures.

Use facts and statistics from trusted sources to show how the virus is spreading in their community. Resources from sites like the CDC and National Institutes of Health can also help reinforce the importance of regular hand washing, social distancing and wearing masks.

Make it a two-way conversation. Encourage them to share their concerns and offer guidance where you can.

2. Get Them Excited About Video Chat

One of the best things you can do for your loved one’s mental well-being — as well as your own — is empower them to stay in touch with you.

Social isolation among older adults, particularly those living alone, can lead to multiple health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. Loneliness has also been tied to an increased risk of anxiety, cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.

With family gatherings and in-person visits limited by local restrictions and social-distancing recommendations, video chats are an excellent way to replicate face-to-face conversations.

There are multiple apps and services you can use, including Skype, Google Duo and FaceTime.

3. Help Them Beat Boredom

In addition to limiting social interactions, the virus has also shut down places like libraries, theaters and community centers. For seniors who enjoy these amenities, the temporary closures can increase their feelings of loneliness and boredom.

You can help them stay entertained and engaged by sending care packages of books, puzzles and craft kits. There are also dozens of free and paid courses available online.

Consider signing your loved one up for MasterClass, which offers courses in gardening, cooking and photography. Services like Rosetta Stone and Duolingo offer foreign language classes, while Udemy’s instructors teach everything from speed reading to basic web design.

4. Get Creative With Grocery Shopping

Many grocery stores offer seniors-only hours to help those with the highest risk shop at their own pace and avoid crowds. A quick Google search can help you find stores in your loved one’s community that offer these special shopping windows.

But many health experts recommend that older adults avoid errands like shopping altogether. Even before the COVID-19 outbreak, services like Instacart and Shipt have offered grocery delivery services for those who can’t or don’t want to do their own shopping.

See if these services offer delivery in your loved one’s community. Their fees are nominal when you consider the value of keeping the people you care about safe.

5. Take Advantage of Telehealth Technology

A crowded waiting room may not be the safest place to be during a pandemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, telehealth services help older adults social distance and can be a safer option for patients by reducing potential exposure to COVID-19. Scheduling an online appointment can also reduce the strain on healthcare systems by minimizing patient demand on facilities and personal protective equipment.

Unless it is an emergency, it is best to call your doctor before heading to the hospital to find out if online “virtual visits” are an option for your loved one, particularly those who suspect they may have COVID-19.

At Sonata Senior Living, the health and well-being of our residents is our top priority. To learn more, contact us today or schedule a virtual tour.

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