The year 2020 has been a tumultuous year to say the least. The COVID-19 pandemic reached the U.S. in January and forced a nationwide quarantine in mid-March which lead to a dire economic situation. Nursing homes and senior living facilities were hit especially hard by the coronavirus and are no longer safe for senior residents. In addition to the coronavirus pandemic, many cities across the U.S. have experienced protests in the previous month that have led to unrest, vandalism, and looting. Everyone within the U.S. has been affected by these events. For senior citizens, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and political unrest can be especially dangerous.
If 2020 has shown senior citizens one thing, it is that they must always be prepared for the unexpected. No one could have predicted that the pandemic would affect the U.S. the way it did and wreak havoc in nursing homes the same way no one would have predicted social unrest would put nearby residents in danger. For the time being, senior citizens need to be cautious to keep themselves safe through the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic and social unrest.
In this guide, we will cover steps senior citizens and their caregivers should take to ensure their safety for the rest of 2020. We will also discuss some of the changes you can expect when it comes to senior home care in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
Senior Citizens: Prepare for the Unexpected
The COVID-19 pandemic and the events of 2020 have created unique situations that have direct effects on the lives of senior citizens. It is very important for seniors to be prepared for the following:
- Pandemic: In the few months since the COVID-19 pandemic has hit the U.S., we have learned that the virus spreads quickly and that senior citizens are among the most vulnerable to experiencing severe symptoms. This is why nursing homes have been hit hard and many seniors in nursing homes have died from the coronavirus. To protect themselves from the virus, seniors should avoid going in public, but wear masks at all times when they do. Seniors also need to wash their hands and use hand sanitizer regularly. If you or your senior loved ones are living in a nursing home, consider home care as an alternative. Home care agencies can provide home care for seniors in their homes which is a much safer environment.
- Political unrest: Unfortunately, protests have given way to rioting which has included looting, vandalism, and even violence. Because of this, grocery stores and pharmacies in some areas are closing early and boarding up for protection. Seniors and their caregivers must ensure that there is enough food in the home and that they have an adequate amount of their medications. Depending on the situation in your area, grocery stores and pharmacies may be open less hours or stay closed for days at a time. It is safest for seniors to shop during designated senior hours at local stores and pharmacies.
- Emergencies: You never know when an emergency, medical or otherwise, may occur. Make an emergency plan with your senior loved ones so they know who to reach if there is an emergency for help. You should also consider a personal emergency response system that allows your loved ones to call for help at the push of a button if an emergency occurs while they are alone.
- Mobility: Seniors and their families should be prepared for the worst-case scenario of evacuating their homes due to bad weather or other situations that put them in danger. This includes having an emergency kit packed and ready in case an evacuation must happen quickly and having a ride arranged to ensure a safe evacuation. Home care agencies provide senior transportation to help your loved ones get to where they need to go.
Senior Home Care After 2020
One thing is for sure, the coronavirus pandemic has drastically impacted nursing homes and assisted living facilities. More than 16,000 nursing home residents have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began which is hurting the industry.
The spread of COVID-19 through nursing homes and the resulting deaths will likely make families more hesitant to put their senior loved ones in nursing homes. For nursing homes to bounce back after the pandemic, they will need to work to regain trust and ensure that they can keep their residents safe.
Senior home care is the safest option not only for seniors who wish to avoid becoming infected with the coronavirus, but also for those who are affected as they can receive the care they need without putting other seniors in danger. There has been a rise in demand for home care as this is seen as a safer alternative to nursing homes in the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is very important for home care to be done safely during the current pandemic to protect seniors receiving care as well as the caregivers. The following are the ways in which the industry is helping to make home care safer:
- Home caregivers will use the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect themselves and the seniors they care for.
- Home care agencies will test their caregivers for COVID-19 regularly.
- Home care agencies will provide paid sick leave for their caregivers to ensure that they stay home when feeling sick.
- Home care services will become more flexible and include virtual care and conferences via video conferencing technology.
- It is possible that the definition of “home health” will be expanded by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to include “personal care” which is currently not covered by Medicare. They may also expand the definition of “homebound” which will make more people eligible for senior home care.
- New home caregivers will be trained and licensed and required to pass a background check before being considered for employment.
- Home caregivers will undergo additional training to recognize symptoms of COVID-19 and learn how to treat someone recovering from this illness.
Senior Home Care from Assisting Hands
It has become clear that the COVID-19 pandemic will bring in a “new normal” in many aspects of our lives, including home care. At Assisting Hands Home Care, we provide seniors with quality home care. Naperville, IL families have trusted us to provide exceptional senior home care that includes companion care, senior transportation, and 24-hour home care if needed. Each of our caregivers goes through the proper protocols to provide home care during the COVID-19 pandemic and we will look out for possible symptoms of the disease.