Cheryl Cartwright is the Managing Partner & Director of Case Management for our Home Care Assistance. Cheryl is a certified gerontologist with a specialized diploma in Alzheimer’s and dementia in addition to a diploma in emergency communications/ crisis management.
What can you do when you or your loved one are stuck at home during an outbreak? How will they manage their personal care or picking up groceries? And how will you help them to manage the feelings of isolation and anxiety?
Many of us feel anxious and fearful about COVID-19. If you have an elderly or at-risk loved one, we can help inform you about supporting elders and making sure they are safer at home. In addition to keeping elders safe at home it is critical that we continue to ensure that they live happy, fulfilled lives and eliminate as much anxiety as possible.
Here are three ways that caregivers can keep elders safe and comforted at home:
1. Make it Easier and Safer to Stay at Home
The safest place for even relatively healthy elders is often in their own homes. It is critical to make sure that the home is well stocked with essential supplies. In addition to that, the “happiness list” should be full too; favourite foods, games, activities, books and notes/ letters from loved ones all go a long way to easing the strain of isolation. In-home caregivers are experts in making sure all these client needs are met. For example, professional caregivers can make sure the supplies are well stocked and case managers oversee grocery deliveries with no more than a two day wait.
2. Get Creative with Companionship
Elders who live alone already are at risk for isolation and loneliness. Your loved one may feel anxious and disconnected from others during this uncertain time. Social distancing means family members shouldn’t visit. However a regularly scheduled in-home caregiver (either living-in or on shift basis) is a wonderful connection to the outside world and companion within the home.
Someone to help with a hobby, exercises or set up ways to communicate with loved ones such as writing letters, phoning, or using video calls is vital.
Did you do the crossword or Sudoku together with your relative before isolation? How about continuing to do it together virtually? Technology allows us to work together on projects like these from remote locations. If your loved one isn’t great with technology a caregiver can help with the technicalities.
You can try a virtual activity like listing 2 things that are similar and have your loved one guess the common theme. For example, “Gretzky and Orr were _________” or “Sparrows and Finches are _________”.
3. Protect and Reassure Your Loved One
Being alone during a time of uncertainty can lead to fear and anxiety. Your loved one needs to know that support is available. As a family caregiver you are doing your best to meet the needs of those who depend on you while following safety recommendations. However you also have yourself, other family members, your job and other daily activities to think about. A professional caregiver has only one person to focus on and take care of. Consider home care as a good fit for keeping your elderly loved one safe while they stay at home.