Covid-19 caregiving

Caregiving during COVID-19

On the internet, on the radio and the television, you can find constant updates and news about the Corona virus or COVID-19.  This brief blog is to summarize a few basics that caregivers should know about caregiving during COVID-19 to be safe and prepared at home.

The symptoms

From the website of the Centers for Disease Control

According to the Centers for Disease Control, “the following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure:

  • High Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath.”

The CDC recommends that you call your doctor if you notice these symptoms.

Symptoms May Worsen

However, at any time, for elderly and vulnerable patients in particular, the symptoms may worsen.

“Emergency warning signs include:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face.”

If you notice these symptoms, call 911.  Tell the dispatch personnel that the patient is suspected to have, has been tested for, or has a laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19.

Practice “Social Distancing”

Healthy caregivers and well, but vulnerable patients should practice “social distancing”, according to experts.  Social distancing means that healthy persons should keep away from people who may possibly have been exposed or may be already ill with COVID-19.  This means limiting visitors and limiting going out of the house to places where you might encounter a sick person.  Stay home unless travel is necessary.  It means staying at least six feet from people in public, and even avoiding kissing, hugging, and bodily contact with family and friends at this time.

When caregiving during COVID-19 , you may need to ask for help from healthy family members or friends to get groceries or pick up prescriptions instead of making the trip yourselves. Or, you may be able to arrange for delivery of pharmacy or  supermarket items to your home. Keep in contact with others by phone, email, or texts, rather than in person as much as possible.

You may also be interested in our article Caregiving Help.

Step up Hygiene Practices

Disinfect surfaces, especially ones which are often touched by you or the patient.  Wash laundry in hot water or as warm as the fabrics will allow.  Scrub your hands clean frequently.  Also, clean again before and after doing personal care for yourself and the person, such as washing the face, bathing the patient, touching the patient for any purpose. Dispose of tissues, napkins, and disposable underwear in a garbage bag and wash your hands after touching the garbage bag.  Wearing gloves when dealing with bodily fluids, respiratory mucus, or blood is reasonable at any time, but especially in these times. Wash hands after touching pets also.

What if the Caregiver gets Sick?

The biggest worry of caregivers is “What will happen if I get sick and cannot care for my loved one?”   Most people who are mildly ill with the virus are able to isolate at home while they are sick. Talk to your doctor about your caregiving responsibilities and see if there are alternatives to staying at home with the patient in the same home.

The patient will also have to be evaluated for the illness if you are sick. Perhaps both of you can stay at home while home healthcare workers check on you.  Perhaps your loved one can be cared for in a facility while you are unable to care for her/him.   Mildly ill people must self-isolate except for medical care appointments, but, for elders with serious cases and complex medical histories, hospital care could be necessary.

Here’s where you can get up-to-date,  reliable,  information about COVID-19.

You should also contact your local city, county or state health department, and of course, your own doctor. hopes that you and your loved ones can be safe and healthy at home when caregiving during Covid-19.

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