If you’re related to a loved one in the hospital, rehab or living in a retirement community, you may have received a message by now that they’re limiting non-essential visits. In some cases, they’re limiting almost all visits apart from in-house medical staff. This is for the best, as we now know the most affected population of the coronavirus is the elderly and immune compromised.

Should you move them from their community, or otherwise, to bring them home? It really depends. In any type of care facility, hygiene considerations are already a priority which is a reason to leave well enough alone. However, there is is still concern over the spread of germs just by virtue of the amount of ill people being concentrated to one area. That may be true for a rehab or hospital, but an assisted living is not a high concentration of sick people, just elderly people. Each individual or couple also has their own room where they can easily separate from others. My inbox is flooded right now with updates on how each community and facility is handling the coronavirus. If you’re concerned, read these types of communications thoroughly and call with any questions that are specific to your loved ones situations. Hopefully you’ll be able to make the determination of whether your loved one should stay or come home.

If your elderly relative or friend is already home, there are no shortage of questions about how to continue supporting them:

Should they keep scheduled appointments? If it’s something preventative and easily rescheduled, put it off. Why take the risk? If the appointment is hard to come by or required (ie – dialysis) then yes, it would make sense to go. It wouldn’t hurt to call the location to concur or see if they can offer other options.

Should seniors be traveling? They saw cruises were cheap right now: Airports, cruises, tourist attractions, etc go against the precaution of keeping social distance. With that said, all these locations right now are fairly vacant, but that’s because everyone is doing their part to help stop the spread of coronavirus. The elderly and immune-compromised should seriously consider if a cruise is worth the risk of landing in the hospital. (As tempting as it is.)

I visit my aging parents daily to help keep the house running and for check-ins, should I still do that? Caregivers should practice extra precaution regarding hand washing, social distancing from others, and being mindful about their own health symptoms (ie – don’t justify a cough as allergies). Family should have a backup plan to care for their loved one in case the caregiver gets sick. Planning also helps reduce panic and anxiety, so communicate a care plan among family members. There should also be something in place that allows the elderly to receive ongoing food and medication. Most people are hoarding right now, so that’s easier said than done, but if you’re not able to supply them with food or medicine, have a contingency in mind for delivery service. 

How can I stay connected with my elderly family if I can’t visit? If you’ve read my blogs before, you know I’m a big fan of leaning on technology to help the Sandwich Generation manage the responsibilities of aging parents. If you’ve followed my advice, start calling them on the phone or use Alexa, Facetime, etc. If staying connected is more a concern of just keeping your loved one engaged, make sure they’re set up with other activities for the next couple of weeks. Install an app for backgammon, drop off everything needed for a knitting project, or get them started on a new Netflix series.