To the majority of people, the term “social distancing” is a new one, but to many older people it is all too familiar. Now is a time to look at safe ways to interact while also building new understanding.
“Let’s remember this: the whole of American society is about to get dunked in the tank of social isolation that too many elders live in every day, year after year,” said Dr. Bill Thomas, geriatrician and founder of The Eden Alternative, a non-profit dedicated to improving the lives of elders. “Let us take this time to deepen our understanding of how difficult social isolation is.”
Dr. Thomas was speaking during a webinar in mid-March at the beginning of new restrictions in the United States and elsewhere in response to the COVID-19 virus and recommended precautions to slow the spread of the illness.
While professional caregivers have had training and may also have protective gear (such as gloves and a face mask) to don when interacting with people who still need care regardless of the current virus concerns, family caregivers may find themselves in unfamiliar scenarios. Unfortunately, scientists are reporting the most severe cases of COVID-19 have been in older populations and therefore this is considered a high risk group that needs protection from exposure to the virus. See this Centers for Disease Control list for staying healthy.
Here are a few ideas for how to remain connected to loved ones while maintaining physical distance, particularly between those exhibiting symptoms:
Chances are that if you have taken the recommendations of experts to self-isolate during this time in order to lower the spread of the virus, you might feel lonely, bored or helpless. Keep this new awareness in mind as you strive to alleviate feelings of loneliness, helplessness and boredom in an elder loved one’s life at this time and beyond.
There might be some jobs out there better suited to a specific age in life, but caregiving can—and is—done by people from all ages and stages of life.
It might be time to start thinking about being together again. Well-being is not just about exercise and nutrition, but also relationships and emotional sturdiness.
Too much caregiving without support can lead to burnout and other ailments for a family caregiver. Learn how to avoid injury, stress, and maintain well-being.