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“Older Adults and Family Caregivers: Dealing with COVID-19”

“Older Adults and Family Caregivers: Dealing with COVID-19”

 

By, Sara Laite, MPH, RD, LRD

Extension Agent

 

The Centers for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov) has important information for people who are at risk for serious illness from the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).  People who may be at higher risk of getting very sick from this illness include:

  • Older adults
  • People with serious chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease.

 

Check out this short video, “COVID-19: What Older Adults Need to Know from CDC” that describes preventative measure to help protect older adults from this virus.

 

Many older adults live in the community, and some may depend on services and supports delivered in their homes and/or provided in the community in order to maintain their independence and health. As a friend or neighbor, what can you do to help older adults in your community?

  • Make an extra effort to reach out by phone or email to the older adults in your neighborhood. Ask if they need help picking up groceries, prescriptions or other supplies to have on hand.
  • Assure them that you and other community and social networks are available to support them during this challenging time. Initiating more frequent contact may be reassuring to older adults who are staying home as much as possible and have limited social contact.

 

Family caregivers have a big responsibility on any given day, but news about the COVID-19 and the effects it may have on people with suppressed immune systems and older adults is especially concerning. So what can you and your family do?

  • Be an advocate for your family member’s needs and assure they receive appropriate health care services.
  • If you are a family caregiver, stay updated on the latest facts on COVID-19 from credible sources, like the CDC or local and state health departments.
  • Know the potential COVID-19 symptoms and warning signs and consult your medical provider, if indicated.
  • Know what support you need from your family and friends and how to delegate out these responsibilities. 
  • Determine who can provide care if you or the formal care provider is unable to do so.
  • Communicate your anxiety or fear for yourself and your loved ones becoming exposed to the virus. Fear can grow to a point where it hinders a family’s ability to share feelings as tensions mount. Talking through our concerns and feelings with others can help us find helpful ways of dealing with a stressful situation.
  • Most importantly, take care of yourself.  You may feel overwhelmed by the constant, rapidly changing, and often conflicting information provided by the media regarding the growing danger of COVID-19. It is critical during this time to take care of both your physical and emotional health.

 

For more information, contact the Ramsey County Extension Office at 701-662-7027.  Website: https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/ramseycountyextension.  Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NDSUExtRamsey/.

 

Source: Jane Strommen. NDSU Extension Gerontology Specialist.

 

 

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