For now, it’s known as the “new normal” and it affects everything from how we connect with others to how we do our shopping. It’s affecting healthcare too - particularly when you’re tasked with caring for an ailing or elderly loved one. Just as many of us are struggling with lack of contact with friends and family, a lot of the support systems we previously relied on are more hands-off than they were in the past. If this is you, here are some tips to help you provide the best care you can safely, diligently, and without much of the help you may previously have relied on.
1. If at all Possible, Keep Your Patient at Home
Many hospitals have been overwhelmed with a flood of Covid-19 cases, pushing healthcare workers to the limits. And, though hospices aren’t usually associated with the care of patients with infectious illness, there are things to know about hospice care during the pandemic. Of the greatest concern to you as a family member will be the lack of access to a loved one who may be nearing the end of his or her life. But with vulnerable patients to protect, hospices need to limit the number of potential carriers through their doors - and this means you.
Clearly, there are times when you must resort to hospitals or hospices, but it’s best to limit this to emergencies you can’t handle at home or instances in which you are unable to provide the care your loved one needs.
2. Postpone Minor Procedures
Ask your doctors whether it’s possible to postpone procedures without aggravating conditions to the point where treatment is complicated. You should also weigh the amount of inconvenience, discomfort, and loss of quality of life that a postponement will cause. For example, if a person can’t see because of cataracts, it might be worth going ahead with treatment.
3. Adhere to Best Practice
By now we all know the safety protocols. Avoid crowds, try to limit shopping expeditions as far as possible, sanitize, wash hands, wear a mask. When caring for an infirm person, your primary concerns are staying healthy so that you’re in a position to be there for them, and avoiding a situation in which you carry the disease to your patient.
You may have to make some tough calls. A person nearing the end of their life will want to see other family members, and it’s up to you to decide what the rules of engagement would be. As a matter of opinion, it would be wise to check whether prospective visitors have been adhering to safe behaviors themselves. And, as a minimum, visitors should be required to wear their masks and sanitize their hands on arrival.
Remember to take Care of Yourself Too
In closing, remember that your physical and mental health are important to both you and the person you care for. Eat healthy food, use stress-relieving techniques, and stay in remote contact with people who will be supportive. Caring for a loved one who is ill is a difficult task at the best of times - and this is certainly not among the most favorable times to do so. However, this too, shall pass. Hang in there!
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