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Health and mental wellness tips for caregivers of the elderly during COVID-19

Submitted

Mon, Mar 23rd 2020 02:55 pm

Seniors are especially vulnerable to effects of coronavirus; it is important for both caregiver and patient to maintain physical & mental health

By the Erie County Department of Health

Elderly caregivers play a vital role in the community and in individuals’ lives. Amidst the angst and uncertainty of the COVID-19 epidemic, their jobs are even more essential and likely more stressful. Follow some of these simple tips to make things easier on yourself and your patient.

Social connection and meaningful communication:

•The at-risk elderly have been told to isolate as much as possible. Prioritize finding ways for them to connect with their children and grandchildren so as to avoid extreme loneliness. Provide technological assistance and create a support system around the elderly individual so they feel connected.

Staying active:

•Encourage the individual to be both physically and mentally active. Engage them in regular physical exercise and find mentally stimulating activities to do regularly.

•Discover ways for the elderly to be helpful to others. A sense of purpose and meaning is a great remedy for anxiety and isolation.

Do not forget about your own self-care:

•Be compassionate toward yourself. Take breaks when you need them and rotate responsibilities with others while practicing your own positive mental health strategies.

•Offer to do things for the elderly that will be mutually beneficial. Take their dog for a walk. Read a book or magazine with them. Try doing a puzzle or simple craft project.

Matilda’s Law:

•Provides additional social distancing guidelines for senior citizens.

•Do not go to the homes of your relatives or homes with multiple people in them. Limit visits in your own home to immediate family members or close friends for emergency purposes only. Any visitors to your home should be screened for fever before being allowed to enter.

•Everyone in the home of a senior or vulnerable person (including the vulnerable person themselves) should wear a mask for the duration of the visit.

•Stay home unless necessary to obtain supplies.

Mental Health Resources:

ECDOH has set up an information line for residents to call with questions about COVID-19 at 716-858-2929. This hotline will be staffed from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. weekdays. Hours may change based on call volume.

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