(NewsUSA) - Almost 42 million Americans identified as caregivers for an older adult prior to COVID-19. Overnight, it's likely that millions more have joined their ranks.
With COVID-19, there are added complications, notably physical separation. Some people are supporting older relatives who live far away while others may be close by, but are maintaining a safe distance. The goal is to maintain social closeness while also practicing physical distance.
"As the primary caregiver to my parents, I know well that the ways we support the older adults in our lives have changed," says Ray Spoljaric, CEO and Co-Founder of Aloe Care. "Caregivers are resilient, committed people and will go to any lengths to provide for those they care for. Now more than ever, communication and collaboration are key to providing the highest level of care."
If you're a new caregiver, or concerned about COVID-19 for someone you support, consider these five tips from nationally recognized expert Amy Goyer:
* Establish a Care Circle - Identify the people who can help. It may be a combination of professionals, family members, and/or friends.
Collect names, phone numbers, and email addresses of everyone in your Care Circle. This is also a good place to store elders' information, particularly what you would need in case of an emergency (i.e., medications, pre-existing conditions, home access details).
* Stay Connected - Next, establish regular check-ins.
With new physical distancing guidelines, social connection is more important than ever. Prepare a schedule of remote check-ins by the Care Circle. Consider leveraging technology in a solution like Aloe Care, which facilitates easy check-ins and care collaboration.
* Maintain Medical Care and Support - Telehealth is a rapidly advancing option for safe care. In fact, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently expanded coverage and loosened policies and regulations regarding telehealth.
Many pharmacies have mail- order options and are expanding support for caregivers to manage medications.
* Cover the Essentials - Assess the food, household, and personal supplies the elders have at home and what they need to keep in stock.
Many grocery stores now offer contactless delivery or pick-up. A quick online search should reveal the best local option. Additionally, the Area Agency on Aging's Eldercare Locator is a great resource, as is Meals on Wheels.
* Well-Rounded Health - While it may take some creativity during COVID-19, everyone needs stimulation physically, cognitively, and emotionally to maintain their well-being (including you, dear caregiver). Find ways to keep your loved ones and yourself active with technology, puzzles, letter-writing, exercises and more.