Quarantine, due to COVID-19, has been extremely difficult and challenging here at Vicinia Gardens. Our staff and residents are waiting for the day that they can get back to their normal daily activities. Our residents are having a hard time adjusting to this crazy new lifestyle of not being able to see the world face to face. While they are not in favor of it, like many of us, it is for their own safety. During this time most fear the unknown. Will I become ill or will I survive this pandemic? How will we prevent other issues like depression or anxiety from occurring? Will another illness be missed due to the lack of access to face to face interactions with family or doctors? These are all good questions and luckily, we have some answers.
First, we live in a world where technology is at our fingertips. A phone call, text message, and virtual Face to Face interaction is a click away. If your loved one lives in a facility, the state has required that the resident be provided with a way to keep in contact with you through different applications like FaceTime or Zoom. As a result, you can schedule time with your loved ones through a virtual face to face interaction. In addition, if one of the residents is not feeling well or there is a medical concern, they are able to conduct a telehealth (virtual) visit with their physician. If you are not tech-savvy you can always utilize a simple phone call to stay in touch with loved ones and essential healthcare workers. Window visits can be another great option to utilize. Families can visit with their loved ones from 6ft away through the windows of their personal rooms or common areas. At our facility this brings a lot of joy to our residents, making these tough times a little bit easier to handle. Many families bring their pets or grandchildren to visit. This warms my heart to see how happy this makes our residents. While this will brighten everyone’s day, it is important to remember that even though there is a screen between you, you should still wear a mask and maintain social distance.
Another great way to help your loved one cope during this is to send them care packages. Some great things to include in these packages are their favorite snack, drink, or anything that you think will make them smile. Current pictures are also a good thing to include. This could be something that they can look at daily to make them happy. In addition, pictures from their past might be a fun thing to add to the basket. Anything that can spark a positive or fun memory will surely make their day and give for a good conversation topic for the next time you visit. Take-out from a resident’s favorite restaurant is a good option as well. It helps them to feel more connected to the outside world when they can enjoy their favorite meal. An important thing to remember when sending these care packages is to make sure you are sanitizing all deliveries before they are handed over.
Health and safety are our number one priority during this time so it is important to follow state guidelines in regards to COVID-19. If your loved one is in a facility, they must be checking their temperatures at least twice a day and looking for other symptoms such as a cough or sore throat. If they are living at home, those are still good practices for them to follow.
The CDC has reported that 8 out of 10 deaths in the U.S. have been in adults over 65 years old. So why does the virus hit our elderly so hard? First, they are more likely to suffer from underlying conditions that hinder the body’s ability to cope with and recover from illness. Second, it has to do with how our immune response changes with age. “As you get older, your lungs are not as elastic or as resilient as when you’re younger. Those kinds of things, coupled with any kind of health issue you might have, trend toward this loss of airway function and respiratory function.” (immunologist, Vineet Menachery). As a result, we all need to be taking the necessary precautions and steps to keep our elderly population safe and healthy!
-Kelly Steffey, RN, BS, CDCM, CALD