The COVID-19 pandemic has become one of the biggest health crises in modern times, with it now infecting over a hundred million worldwide. And elders are particularly vulnerable to the disease with their reduced immunity. As such, proper home health should be a priority for their families and caregivers. Here is a guide on how this should be implemented.
The Effects of COVID on the Elderly
As with other diseases, age increases the risk of patients catching COVID-19. Older people also have a higher risk of death. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, around 8 out of 10 COVID-related deaths are adults aged 65 years and older.
Pre-existing conditions among elderly patients can also increase their susceptibility to the virus. Some of the conditions you need to be aware of include:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Heart conditions
While there is still mixed evidence regarding the actual risk for these diseases, it is still important that you know the medical history of your ward to provide the right protection. Also, note that certain immunosuppressant medications used for treatment might increase the risk further.
COVID Symptoms In The Elderly
One thing that made dealing with COVID-19 difficult is the variability of symptoms that patients might have. While there is already an established list, medical experts are still discovering more symptoms linked to the disease. This is more so the case with senior patients, who have been observed with some unusual signs.
An unusual symptom that you might notice is multiple temperature readings higher than 37.2 degrees Celsius. Note that this might seem normal for younger adults, this can potentially be a sign of fever for older patients. This is because older people have a lower body temperature and thus a lower threshold for possible fever.
Another surprising symptom in older COVID-19 patients is a behavior change. They might sleep longer than usual or don’t want to eat. Elders might also become confused and disoriented about their surroundings. This can lead to dizziness and potential accidents if not guided.
In certain senior COVID patients, delirium has also been recorded to occur. Experts often attribute this to the above changes in behavior. They also explain that an older person’s body responds to illnesses differently, leading to such symptoms.
Providing Home Health Care For Older COVID Patients
When these symptoms appear, it is best for the patient’s caretakers to arrange swab tests immediately. This will ensure that you get an accurate assessment of whether they have the disease, as well as the severity. Healthcare experts will also be able to provide necessary instructions on quarantine procedures.
Another important step is to create a care plan for the patient. This will include:
- The patient’s current health conditions
- Current medications
- Healthcare providers
- Emergency contacts
- End-of-life care preferences
The plan will help doctors and caregivers coordinate with each other when nursing the patient back to health. It can also be vital for an immediate response should the patient need it. As such, you should submit the care plan to your ward’s doctor for review and approval before implementation.
When implementing home health care for older COVID patients, caregivers should assess the suitability of the house. Some of the essential elements that it needs include:
- A separate bedroom where the patient can recover without sharing immediate space with others.
- A separate bathroom for the patient’s use. If it isn’t available, caregivers should have a disinfection routine for the bathrooms to be used.
- Enough food supply to avoid frequent errands outside.
- A good understanding of safety protocols by the household
All of these elements will ensure that the patient is properly isolated during their treatment. Caregivers should also take note of any other members of the household who might have an increased risk of infection. These include other seniors and persons with pre-existing conditions. Because of that, they are not allowed to care for the patient. If possible, they might also be requested to temporarily transfer to another residence to avoid contact.
A challenge when providing home health care to elderly COVID patients is attending to them while observing physical distancing. Unlike younger patients, the elderly would often want to spend more time with their family and friends. Here, the caregiver should still maintain a level of interaction between the patient and their loved ones.
One simple thing to do here is to provide a tablet or computer where the patient can engage their family through live chat. The household can then create activities that will get the patient involved during their recovery. A simple storytelling session works well here, as the senior gets updates on what is going on outside while they are recovering.
Encouraging the patient to go beyond their circle of contacts also helps ease their craving for social contact. This can be as simple as saying hi to the other healthcare staff that comes routinely. You can also have them contact nearby neighbors through video chat. All of these ease the loneliness they are feeling and helps their recovery.
Protecting Our Clients During Home Health Care
We at Amavi know well that we can also be inadvertent carriers of COVID-19. Thus, our team has implemented an extensive COVID prevention protocol to avoid such a possibility. We regularly conduct testing of our personnel to ensure that no one is infected and most of our employees have already been vaccinated.
In the case of positive tests, we do not deploy the health care personnel until they have negative results in succeeding tests. This is the same with personnel who have contact with COVID patients. All of the personnel undergo the recommended isolation period of 14 days before being tested again and allowed to deploy if free of the disease.
Additionally, we have trained our staff to rigorously follow all safety protocols when handling elderly patients. We also provide them with an ample supply of personal protective equipment for the duration of their tenure. All of this to minimize the potential spread of the disease.
Giving You The Health Care You Need During The COVID Pandemic
The COVID-10 pandemic has been especially hard for the elderly. But we remain committed to providing high-quality home health care for them. And with the strategies we have laid out, you can be assured that your elderly beloved will be recovering in no time.