Over the last few weeks, our society has considered more than ever how we interact with our loved ones who are senior citizens. According to the CDC, older adults may be at higher risk for serious complications from COVID-19. While we need to be cautious about our contact with persons over age sixty-five, there are several ways to help seniors and maintain contact with them during this pandemic:
- Encourage older adults to stay at home whenever possible.
- Avoid close contact (closer than 6 feet) with older adults if possible.
- Wash your hands often (for at least twenty seconds) and clean and disinfect surfaces when interacting with an older adult.
- If you live with an older adult, refrain from sharing personal items with them.
- If you are one of several caregivers, designate a single primary caregiver for your loved one and limit the primary caregiver’s interaction with people outside of the home.
- Postpone all non-essential in-person medical visits and consider telemedicine by video or phone. Medicare has expanded telemedicine coverage to help older adults speak to physicians from the comfort of their own home.
- Encourage older adults to engage in exercise in accordance with their abilities by taking walks, doing yoga or taking virtual exercise classes for seniors online.
- If you do not live with your loved one, keep in touch by telephone, video chat, email and/or social media. If you live close enough, you can speak to your loved one through her window or by keeping a safe distance from her outside.
- Make sure your loved one has plenty of food and supplies and run errands for him if necessary, dropping off your purchases just outside of his door. Advise your loved one to clean exterior surfaces on packages before use and to discard items like food takeout containers once the food is removed.
- Help your loved one stay busy during her time at home. Send her puzzles, novels, craft supplies or a new cookbook.
- If you live far from your loved one, contact her local government’s office for senior services to coordinate assistance for her and contact neighbors to perform periodic checks on her.
- If your loved one reports fever, cough and/or shortness of breath, help him coordinate contact with his physician.
- If your loved one reports difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse or bluish lips or face, call 911 immediately.
- Above all, do not visit older adults in person if you feel sick.
The above precautions and suggestions can protect and engage the seniors in your life, but there are times when seniors need the right planning and advice to ensure their legacy is protected. The experienced elder law attorneys at Mandelbaum Salsburg help navigate seniors and their families through a myriad of matters including estate and long-term care planning, Medicaid applications and guardianships. Contact us for a free consultation. We will help you navigate the issues facing your loved one during these uncertain times.