Staying home. It’s what we were all asked to do to protect ourselves and our community since the arrival of COVID-19 in mid-March. Now, as some restrictions begin to ease, many in our community are beginning to venture out. But for our older community members, it’s still the safest place to be.
In addition to being at the highest risk for severe illness due to COVID-19, older adults also are faced with unprecedented challenges navigating the healthcare system and fighting prolonged isolation from their families, friends and communities. Seniors have never been more at risk.
Home Instead Senior Care – Northeast Florida experts in caregiving, aging and in-home senior care – are urging those with senior loved ones to keep this vulnerable population top of mind. To make this easier, they are sharing free informational resources to help local families navigate the many challenges impacting older adults in this pandemic. “For many seniors, home is the foundation to both physical and mental wellness,” said Betsy Miller, owner of Home Instead Senior Care® serving north and west Jacksonville and Clay County. “But whether seniors are trying to return home, stay home or simply stay healthy, it can be daunting in the midst of a pandemic without support.”
For families working to bring a loved one home from a hospital or a facility, Home Instead® recommends beginning discharge plans early and exploring all your options, including what services may be available at home vs. inpatient. “Many seniors have not explored what their aftercare options are if they were to be hospitalized,” explains Lakelyn Hogan, gerontologist and caregiver advocate with Home Instead. “We know that, more than ever, home is not only the preferred but the safest place for older adults to recover from a recent hospital stay or heal from a health issue.”
In a time when the number of available hospital beds is at a premium, keeping seniors safe and healthy at home is critical. Home Instead recommends reviewing home safety checklists to remove potential home hazards, such as addressing fall risks, and simple, inexpensive home improvements like grab bars and improved lighting.
No matter the location, staying healthy for seniors means paying attention to both physical and mental wellness. “Families must remain vigilant with infection control practices but also with regular communications to address seniors’ emotional well-being,” stresses Hogan. “While we all have experienced isolation during this health crisis, the implications are most severe in older adults.”
Home Instead resources include recommendations to connect with your senior loved one safely, whether via technology or in-person, as well as a simple checklist to go through each time you visit your loved one to assess COVID-19 risk. “Our goal in sharing these materials is to make it as easy as possible for families in our community to ensure home, wherever that may be, is a safe and healthy environment for older loved ones,” says Doug Myers, chief operating officer for Home Instead Senior Care serving Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Palm Coast communities. “Not just during this pandemic, but for good.”
All of the free guides, and more to help seniors get home, stay home and stay healthy during the pandemic, are available at www.HomeInstead.com/COVID-19. Featured image via Home Instead Senior Care Facebook page.