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June 4, 2020
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Navigating the aging journey

Julie Ann Soukoulis
Tempted to go out? Here’s what family caregivers can do instead
April 10, 2020

Perhaps you have a little extra time on your hands now that you’re self-isolating. Could be a great opportunity to convene your book club. Or maybe you’re missing the regular gym workouts you’ve relied on to alleviate stress. You’ve heard a lot of your friends are headed to a popular walking trail. Sounds like a fun idea. After all, only older people are at a big risk for coronavirus, right? Not so. An analysis of data reported by 19 states shows that Americans of all ages seem to be equally susceptible to a coronavirus infection. States are reporting cases in every age range, though people in their 50s had slightly more confirmed cases on average. Any project, hobby or other diversion that takes you to places where people are frequenting to get supplies or exercise carries risk, no matter what your age, many experts note. “Family caregivers often tend to worry about everyone but themselves,” noted Home Instead Senior Care Gerontologist and Caregiver Advocate Lakelyn Hogan. “While statistics are showing that the coronavirus disease could have a deadlier impact on the elderly, no one is immune. That’s why everyone – including family caregivers – are being asked to heed the warning of experts to self-isolate, practice social distancing of at least six feet and wash hands and disinfect surfaces regularly to help flatten the curve.”  The spread of COVID-19 (the coronavirus) has taken off since the first U.S. case was identified in Washington state on Jan. 21. By March 17, the virus had expanded its presence from several isolated clusters in Washington, New York and California to all 50 states and the District of Columbia. But, in spite of statistics and warnings, you’ve got to keep your sanity, right? Here are ways to get what you need, physically, socially, emotionally and spiritually without putting yourself (and others) at risk:

 

1. Get creative to stay active. So maybe you shouldn’t go to that busy trail crowded with other walkers. Fitness instructors have gotten creative during this health emergency.  Check out online innovative ways to stay active. There are so many free options if you google free exercise classes. There are options on YouTube and short videos also available on Instagram if you use that platform. So many well-known instructors are  helping individuals stay fit during the COVID-19 crisis with free online classes.

2. Stay socially connected. Social distancing doesn’t mean social isolation. Humans are wired to live in community. We need each other.  Skype and FaceTime can help you stay in touch with friends. If you’re part of a group, consider organizing your people via the free Zoom meeting platform. Members can join by audio, video or both. Whether it’s a men’s or women’s faith group, a friends’ virtual happy hour or a way to keep a hobby going with like-minded people, such as a book club, technology exists to keep your social life moving in spite of a pandemic.

3. Think outside the box to get what you need. While this can be a great time to focus on home improvement projects, investigate other methods to get what you need in the way of supplies. Consider online ordering from outlets such as Amazon. Or, support local businesses that are willing to do curb-side pick-up.

4. Find peace and joy. Mental, emotional and spiritual well-being are just as important as physical health. Some counselors are offering phone or Skype/FaceTime consultations. Contact your local faith community via phone or online to learn the services they may be offering to help you cope with the current crisis. Many organizations are providing weekly worship services via webcam. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides tips including a Disaster Distress Helpline.

5. If you’re a caregiver, protect yourself. If you’re providing hands-on care to a senior, be sure to protect both you and your loved one from illness. Practice Universal precautions. 

 

Some quick reference tips to remember from the CDC:

 

• Frequent hand washing throughout the day with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. These are a good reminder of the kinds of things you should be doing daily.  Especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

• If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry. 

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands and stay home as much as possible.   Remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread virus.

• Keeping distance from others is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.

• Clean and disinfect  daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets and sinks.

 • Cover coughs and sneezes.  If you are in a private setting and do not have on your cloth face covering, remember to always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow. Throw used tissues in the trash.  Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.

 • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.  You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick.

 • Everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public, for example to the grocery store or to pick up other necessities.  (Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.)  The cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected.

• Do not use a face mask meant for a healthcare worker.  Continue to keep about six feet between yourself and others. The cloth face cover is not a substitute for social distancing. Nor is wearing gloves in place of frequent hand washing.

 To learn more about how Home Instead could help you or someone you love, reach  out to my office   at 707.586.1516 we are here to help. We are in this together!

 

Julie Ann Soukoulis is the owner of Home Instead Senior care office in Rohnert Park, mother of two and passionate about healthy living at all ages. Having cared for her own two parents, she understands your struggles and aims, through her website,  to educate and encourage seniors & caregivers. Have a caregiving or aging concern?  She’d love to hear from you at 586-1516 anytime.