- Posted by Lisa
- May 8, 2020
We all are going through a tough time during the global pandemic, which has severely impacted most of the United States.
Since the federal government and the respective states are making efforts to minimize the effect of COVID-19 on the elderly, the fact that caregivers are now overburdened can’t be overlooked.
The ones caring for the elderly with Alzheimer’s are undoubtedly facing challenges that require serious attention to minimize their stress at the earliest.
The novel coronavirus isn’t the direct reason for increasing the risk of infection: the behavior of the seniors along with underlying medical conditions may enhance the risk.
We have compiled some essential tips for the caregivers and home care agencies to alter care for Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients during the pandemic.
Caregivers and COVID-19 Impact
The caregivers across the United States are already putting their best efforts into the pandemic to ensure adequate safety for their senior clients.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak, caregivers need to emphasize more on the overall well-being of the adults along with equal attention to their behavior changes as it may lead to uncertain challenges.
Here’s how caregivers can deal with a situation when their Alzheimer’s patients are showing behavior changes, which can indirectly increase the risk.
Reminding the elderly regarding the overall hygiene and following strict preventive measures is crucial if they forget things and keep on questioning.
Most caregivers are practicing the ways through which the seniors are consistently convinced that they are safe at their place and just need to take care of certain things.
Also, putting signs in the washroom could be a great option that reminds them to wash their hands properly for a minimum of 20 seconds each time they visit the washroom.
Never Leave them Alone during the Confusion
Confusion is one of the biggest challenges that a caregiver needs to manage with an Alzheimer’s patient. People with Alzheimer’s are often more confused when they have any underlying illness that needs to be diagnosed.
Confusion won’t directly contribute to getting infected, but unusual wandering may increase the risk of contamination.
The caregiver must ensure that adequate medical advice is considered if there are signs of confusion and the elderly shouldn’t be left alone at home at any cost.
Keep the doors properly closed to eliminate any chance of escape.
Be in touch with the Medical Practitioner
One of the crucial aspects associated with caring for an Alzheimer’s patient is to be in touch with the medical practitioner. The regular medications must be given to avoid any chance of unusual behavior or confusion.
Regular medication plays a crucial role in treating the mood or behavioral changes in the elderly. If you find that seniors are not responding to your requests or being unnecessarily aggressive, there could be chances they are facing some medical issues that need a diagnosis.
Apart from this, if there are any symptoms including- cough, fever, or breathing problem, one should immediately follow the necessary precautions that include:
- Quarantining the elderly and maintaining social distancing
- Using appropriate PPE like gloves, masks, and sanitizers
- Washing hands with soap and water
- Sanitizing hands whenever touching a common area or object
- Avoid frequent touching to their mouth, nose, and eyes
- Informing the medical service provider if the symptoms worsen
- Restricting visitors
- Using audio calls and video calls for communicating with acquaintances
Consider self-analysis for symptoms
As discussed earlier, the caregivers must identify the symptoms that may depict the infection in the elderly. It the ones you are caring for have trouble breathing, are coughing, or have a fever, you must take the necessary precautions.
First of all, make sure to arrange a separate room for them just in case they live with their spouse or any other relative. Ask them to wear a mask and to wash hands properly.
Since you are caring for the ones with Alzheimer’s, it is important to repeat the instructions whenever required as the elderly may forget things and even get baffled at times.
Furthermore, adequate emphasis on the diet should be given to ensure that their immunity is maintained. A healthy diet would not only help them in minimizing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s but eventually lend a hand in protecting against virus infection.
Manage your stress
Stress and anxiety could be witnessed when an individual is caring for an Alzheimer’s patient. But things may get worse when you have to care and maintain adequate preventive measures due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Different ways can help you in managing your stress levels including exercising, meditating, and taking adequate breaks during the shift. It is essential for the ones caring for the elderly to maintain proper mental health for dealing with the daily challenges in an efficient way.
One can also seek help from fellow caregivers who are experienced enough to deal with patients with Dementia or Alzheimer’s. Joining social communities may also help in raising any concern and getting relevant answers.
While most of the patients with Alzheimer’s keep on repeating things and raising doubts, again and again, it is crucial for the caregivers to remain patient.
Arguing with the elderly could be the worst thing that would not only drain them physically and mentally but eventually disturb your mental peace. If they are asking for things, again and again, try to divert their attention and assure them that everything is alright.
Home Care Agencies and COVID-19 Impact
Not only the caregivers but the home care agencies delivering personal care services need to focus on certain aspects associated with care delivery during the global pandemic.
It is essential to take necessary steps on time to deal with the challenges that may hurdle quality care delivery and may even increase the risk of exposure to the infection.
Managing PPE Supply
Agencies must ensure a proper supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for their staff members and caregivers, which can minimize the risk of contamination during the shift.
Also, proper training must be ensured from the agency’s end regarding the efficient use of gloves, facial masks, sanitizers, and other equipment to get maximum protection against the virus.
Ensuring Adequate Staff
Since most of the workers may apply for sick leave or some may fear to deliver services for longer hours, you must manage an adequate number of staff members.
Whether it is caregivers or support service providers, make sure that you have enough of them for backup. You can also prefer hiring new resources that have less experience as they can handle the needs of the seniors that are looking for daily routine tasks, which can be somehow managed remotely.
This way you can ensure that your experienced caregivers are available to serve the ones with Alzheimer’s and require proper attention.
Revising the Leaves Policies
While many caregivers may demand leaves during this pandemic due to several reasons, you should revise your leave policies. You need to ensure that your caregivers are getting paid leaves since the Federal Government has provided exemptions during this outbreak.
The new law in the United States guarantees paid leaves to caregivers who are delivering personal care services to seniors during the COVID-19 outbreak. Agencies should alter their leave policies and manage the same according to the current situation to keep their operations and services up and running.
Monitoring the Health of Caregivers
One of the most crucial aspects is to monitor the health of the caregivers that are delivering care for the ones who are suspected of the disease.
This will not only ensure the safety of the other clients who are being cared for by that particular caregiver but would eventually minimize the risk of exposure to your other workers.
Using a smart home care management software like CareSmartz360 with COVID-19 Pre-Screening feature can help in analyzing the ones with symptoms of the virus, which can be timely quarantined and eventually help agencies in minimizing the risk of virus spread.
The health analysis of the caregivers should be done regularly as we all know that COVID-19 can initially show no symptoms but the same can be witnessed within the 14 days of infection.
The COVID-19 pandemic is something that can be defeated only when we all unite and work as a team. Whether it is a home care agency, caregivers, or the ones receiving care; everyone’s efforts are crucial in fighting against the pandemic.
When we talk about patients with Alzheimer’s, the caregivers and agency owners need to be more careful and alert while delivering care for enhanced safety.