Older people are at a significantly increased risk of severe disease following infection from COVID-19.
Reasons older adults are impacted by COVID-19 include physiological changes associated with ageing, decreased immune function and multimorbidity.
With age, they become more likely to develop health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, lung conditions and cancer. Having any of these conditions is a risk factor for developing some of the complications of COVID-19.
Since the production of white cells in the bone marrow slows down in older people, this leaves them with fewer types of certain white blood cells needed to fight off an infection. Consequently, their immune system doesn’t recognize the virus as quickly as younger people, and by the time it does, the virus may have already reached the lungs.
As COVID-19 pandemic continues to threaten the globe, the physical and psycho-social health of our elderly demands urgent attention. During those unprecedented times, older adults may be missing their usual outings with family, religious services, clubs, or just short regular social visits.
Check out how you can take care of their physical and mental health and keep them spirited and positive.
Help them stay active
Physical fitness is always important; that’s why we recommend helping your family member with a daily activity plan that keeps them moving within their homes or gardens: a light exercise can help them improve their immune and digestive functioning, bladder/pelvic floor muscles and bone density.
Keep their minds busy
You can keep your loved one entertained through brain challenging games: for example, engage in a daily game of online chess with your grandpa or grandma, or encourage them to do daily puzzles, crosswords or quizzes.
Give them purpose
By creating a daily task for your homebound elderly, you’re not only helping them avoid negative feelings such as depression, but also reduce their stress levels.
To let older adults feel involved, purposeful and less lonely during the pandemic, you can suggest activities such as exchanging letters with younger family members, gardening, writing a short story, learning a new skill or painting.
Voluntary quarantine can also be a good time for an elder to cook a favorite family recipe or share favorite songs or movies with other members in the house.
Stay connected and maintain their emotional wellbeing
One vital way to lower the risk of your older family members to catch COVID-19 is to limit in-person visits.
When you give an elderly a call, try to avoid just talking about the pandemic situation.
Some light-hearted distraction can do wonders. Consider doing a video call with them. There’s always extra comfort and reassurance in seeing someone’s face.
Keep them hydrated
When providing care at home, it’s essential to ensure that your elderly loved one is drinking an appropriate amount of liquid during the course of each day, as this will keep them adequately hydrated.
Help them feel secure
Homebound elderly need particular attention, especially those dealing with incontinence. You can assist them with their daily needs: accessing their medications and maintaining sound hygiene routines. You can also ensure their adult briefs are stocked up.
Postpone unnecessary medical visits
- Avoid hospital set-ups during the pandemic
- Skip all elective surgeries like cataract, hernia or knee-replacements
Keep your hands clean for their safety
Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 40 seconds before and after providing care, preparing food, and changing the adult diaper.
Make sure mobility and medical equipment used by your loved one, such as walkers, canes and handrails, are kept sanitized.
Help them eat healthy
A common complaint from people in lockdown is that in being home all day, it is easy to snack constantly. Prepare healthy meals for older adults in the family. Also, make sure that elderly with incontinence follow a diet that prevents weight gain and helps ease overactive bladder symptoms.
Keeping a positive mindset will be a big support for older adults. All you have to do is reassure them that by taking the right prevention measures, they will remain in good health.