Is it Safe for Seniors to Go Outside Now?
With parts of the USA seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases while we move towards fall and the upcoming flu season, the question of whether it’s safe for anyone, but especially seniors, to go outside and spend time with family members and friends is on the minds of many. Here is some insight from our home health aide services team.
COVID-19 Cases in New Jersey
New Jersey reached its peak in COVID-19 cases in April and as of August 2020, has successfully flattened the curve and reduced cases significantly since then. This is all thanks to the citizens of New Jersey and the hard work that families, caregivers, organizations, and the government has done to limit transmission.
In July, new cases averaged at around 200-300 per day. This means that while new cases are currently low, the virus is still present and precautions should be adhered to, especially if you fall into a higher-risk category. We’ve put in an incredible effort together so far – let’s continue this trend!
Enjoy Life Responsibly with Precautions
The fact is that no one is truly safe from COVID-19 until there is an effective vaccine and treatment – both of which remain in development. For seniors, and especially seniors with high-risk health conditions like diabetes, kidney disease and hypertension, it is especially important to stay safe and apply COVID-19 protocols more strictly. It is up to each one of us to determine our acceptable level of risk, without putting loved ones in harm’s way. Here are some guidelines:
- Minimize visits and get socially creative. Although case numbers are low, the virus is still around and the last thing you want is to make your parent ill. Physical distancing is still the best way to keep loved ones safe, so as much as you want to hug, sit together, and spend time together, it’s best to stay away as much as possible. Video chats are a great alternative and easy to do if you have a tablet or laptop – you can even get friends and family to join in from all around the country!
- If you have to visit, spend time apart, outdoors. It is much more difficult for the virus to jump between people if you are outdoors in the fresh air and six feet apart. If a visit is unavoidable, it is the best way to do it. The Centers for Disease Control recommends visiting local parks (not parks you have to travel together in a car to visit), staying apart, wearing your masks and washing your hands regularly.
- Adhere to regulations regarding wearing masks and physically distancing. Here’s a useful video on how to wear a mask properly. While you do not have to wear a mask around the people you live with, it is important to wear your mask around your senior parent (and that they wear a mask too). It is a bit uncomfortable as we all know (especially us caregivers!), but it is the best way to keep seniors safe.
- Wash hands regularly. The virus can contaminate your skin and infect you or a loved one through physical contact, touching the face (especially mouth and eyes) or handling food and medication. For seniors, caregivers and loved ones, washing hands with soap and water is critical. Wash your hands before you leave, when you arrive, before and after handling food, groceries, or medication, and when you arrive home. Any soap will do, but why not treat yourself to something a bit fancy? With everything that is happened this year, you deserve a treat! You can use a hand sanitizer with a minimum of 70% alcohol if you do not have access to water and soap.
- Stay away from crowds and be aware of your health. If you are planning to visit your parent and are feeling under the weather in any way, cancel your visit and call instead. Even if you do not have COVID-19, any illness you may pass on to your parent will affect their immune system and may result in a hospital stay, which increases their risk. Similarly, it is important to stay away from crowds or even family groups, as this makes it more difficult to socially distance and increases risk of exposure to the virus.
As caregivers, parents, seniors, and families, we all want this pandemic to end and our loved ones to be safe. This has taken a lot of sacrifice over the year and, while we are hopeful of seeing the end of this pandemic, we are not there yet. As specialists in at home care for older adults, we know this time has been exceptionally challenging for seniors and their loved ones – but we’ve been encouraged by the support and creativity of families that do all they can to stay in touch and share special moments with their seniors while keeping them safe!
If you’d like to find out more about what we do and how we work to keep seniors safe, healthy and enjoying life through the pandemic, contact us today and ask about our home health aide services in New Jersey.