Caregiving can be rewarding, but challenging under the best of circumstances. But caregiving during coronavirus requires planning, tight infection prevention practices and a focus on mental health. If you’re taking care of a loved one during this pandemic, you’ll likely need to continue the stay at home orders for vulnerable people, even as states reopen. Keep following this advice:
- Find out if doctors are doing telemedicine visits. Ask which appointments will still require in-person visits and how the office handles social distancing.
- Talk to your loved one’s health care team about strategies to monitor chronic conditions.
- Get a 90-day supply of medications. Use a pharmacy that delivers or that has drive-through service.
- Review home care supplies such as distilled water for CPAP machines, incontinence garments and supplies for chronic conditions such as diabetes or heart disease.
- Coordinate regular home health care visits and learn the agency’s infection prevention steps.
- Reinforce infection control practices like hand-washing and social distancing. Have face masks if you must take your loved one to an in-person doctor’s appointment.
- Discuss health care system preference should hospitalization become necessary.
- Keep important documents, including medical histories, medical information release forms, current medication lists and advance directives, easily accessible in case of an emergency. Consider putting all of this information on a USB flash drive that can be transported and updated easily.
- Devise a plan for both of you to stay healthy that includes a healthy diet, exercise, hydration and adequate sleep.
- Limit news intake about the coronavirus. Continuous news updates appear to increase anxiety. Instead, focus on joy and gratitude. Seek mental health support if needed.
- Encourage hobbies such as gardening, knitting or word searches. Ease stress with meditation or prayer.
- Celebrate birthdays and anniversaries.
If you and your loved one aren’t in the same location, follow these tips:
- Minimize physical contact. If you need to have physical contact, wash your hands and wear a mask and gloves.
- Have groceries, prescriptions and other supplies delivered.
- Schedule a regular time to connect by phone or video call.
- Remind your loved one about the importance of staying at home, avoiding unnecessary close contact with others and washing hands after touching items from outside such as packages and mail.
- Make sure your phone number and those of other emergency helpers are easily accessible.