Older people are especially at risk of contracting Covid-19 because they usually have underlying medical conditions that make recovery more difficult. It is the reason why it’s recommended that they stay home to avoid being exposed to the virus. Yet older people have certain needs that require them to go out and carry out activities. This poses a challenge in keeping them safe during this pandemic.
The usual reasons for older people to go out are the following:
1. Buying groceries
2. Sending mail and packages
3. Shopping for personal items
4. Having their vehicle serviced
5. Picking up prescriptions
6. Buying items in hardware or specialty stores
Other than the risk of being infected with Covid-19, many of these older patients have existing physical conditions that take them twice as long as younger people to do an activity, increasing their chances of getting the virus when outside of their homes.
This is the time when caregivers like you can be a big help. Do you run errands for older patients? If you do, you might have concerns about this task during this Covid-19 pandemic.
What can you do to make this job safe for you and your patient?
1. If you are sick, call it in immediately.
Inform your agency that you are unwell and have them find another caregiver to run errands instead. You need to isolate yourself by staying at home and away from your other family members. Isolation is required if you are showing signs and symptoms of Covid-19 regardless if you have tested positive of the disease or not.
2. Wear a mask when in public places.
Masks protect both ways. It helps prevent you from catching the virus, and protects others from getting it from you if you’ve been unknowingly exposed.
3. Remember to stay at least 6 feet away from another person.
Social distancing reduces the risk of you getting infected, which in turn, reduces also the risk of your older patient being infected.
4. Avoid touching your face and use a hand sanitizer after leaving stores.
Coronavirus can enter the body through the nose, mouth, or eyes and it can survive on surfaces that you touch. It is, therefore, important to keep your hands away from your face.
5. Avoid using reusable bags when grocery shopping.
Also, if possible, the shopping bags should not touch any other surfaces after coming from the store counters.
6. Sanitize plastic shopping bags with at least 60% alcohol.
Alcohol that is at least 60% strong is effective in killing germs, such as coronaviruses.
7. Leave packages at designated areas in the patient’s home.
Before placing packages within the patient’s home premises, remove the outer packages if double packed. If the patient is unable to bring in their groceries, you may need to do it yourself.
8. Before entering the patient’s home, perform handwashing.
If this is not possible, use hand sanitizer to clean your hands. Put on a disposable gown as well as shoe covers if agency policies require you to. If these pieces of personal protective equipment are not available or not required, shed your outer clothing such as your coat and shoes before going in.
9. Instruct the older person to wear a mask and maintain a safe distance away from you when bringing in deliveries.
Social distancing still applies even if you enter the patient’s home.
10. Put the items on the kitchen counter and dispose of the outer package if applicable.
Wash your hands before going out of their homes. Once outside, remove and discard disposable gowns and shoe covers appropriately.
Caregivers like you who run errands make it easier for older persons to live independently. You bridge the gap between their physical limitations and their everyday needs, thus improving their quality of life. Your dedication protects this vulnerable population from the devastation of Covid-19.
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