Tips for Caregivers Taking Elderly Loved Ones to Doctor’s Appointments During COVID-19
The ongoing Covid-19 public health crisis has meant facing new complications in almost every area of life. Even for young and healthy people, community spread of the novel coronavirus presents a serious health risk. But this risk is considerably higher for elderly individuals.
Elderly people, especially those with other underlying medical conditions, face the highest levels of risk for dangerous symptoms or death due to COVID-19, according to research vetted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Therefore, taking every precaution if you are the caregiver for an elderly love one is absolutely imperative to safeguard their health and wellbeing throughout this continuing crisis.
Decreasing the risk of infection for you and your loved one, when dealing with medical appointments, now presents a very unique set of challenges. The good news is that you can significantly mitigate the danger to your loved one by adhering to the following tips:
Guard your Health to Guard your Loved One’s Health
Because one of the easiest places for infections of COVID-19 to spread is within households, keeping yourself healthy is also a way to protect the health of your elderly loved one. Additionally, investing in the following practices regularly will make you and your loved one more likely to habitually observe them when outside the home for medical appointments.
Regularly observe the following healthy practices:
- Wash Your Hands Regularly: After any interaction outside your home, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. If you are in a situation where soap and water aren’t available, use hand sanitizer composed of no less than 60% alcohol.
- Avoid Unnecessary Interactions: While some trips outside the home may be necessary, delay or cancel any interactions with others that aren’t essential. Because the virus primarily spreads through face-to-face interactions, minimizing these interactions can protect those in your household.
- Disinfect Regularly Used Surfaces: Clean and disinfect any areas that you or your loved ones touch regularly, such as doorknobs, light switches, remotes, sinks, and countertops.
Protecting your health is key to protecting the health of the elderly person(s) to whom you are providing care, whether at home or traveling to doctor’s appointments.
Consider Whether the Medical Appointment is Necessary
Before preparing to go to a doctor’s appointment, it’s important to determine whether the appointment must take place at all. Many doctor’s offices are discouraging in-person visits for non-essential reasons during the unfolding pandemic.
If your loved one simply needs a routine follow-up or check-up, it may be best to postpone or reschedule your appointment for a later time.
Additionally, some doctor’s appointments can be completed without physically visiting the office. Online telehealth appointments are becoming more popular and more available, as people work to avoid unnecessary in-person interactions because of safety concerns.
Many medical facilities and offices can provide your elderly loved one with routine care online from the comfort and safety of your home.
Familiarize yourself with the Office’s COVID-19 Policies
In cases where your loved one will have to be physically present at a doctor’s office for their appointment, it is important to familiarize yourself with the specific protocol that the office is enacting to protect their patients and workers.
Different medical facilities are taking different actions to decrease the risk of transmission between patients, doctors, and staff. Knowing what to expect on the day of your loved one’s appointment will allow you to prepare any necessary accommodations that might be needed.
For instance, many doctor’s offices are discouraging caregivers from spending any unnecessary time inside their buildings. This could mean that you will need to wait in your car for your loved one to finish their appointment, with potential exceptions made for caregivers who are necessary to aid with mobility issues.
It will be helpful to talk with the doctor’s office about these possibilities before the day of the appointment.
It may also be required that you and your loved one get tested for COVID-19 prior to your visit. Because the results of COVID tests can sometimes take a few days to receive, knowing whether testing is expected will allow you to plan ahead.
Knowing what safety protocols to expect will help you and your loved one navigate the appointment process smoothly and safely.
Masks, Social Distancing Procedures, and Minimized Contact
The same basic tools that are useful for stopping the spread of COVID-19 anytime you are outside of your home are especially vital when taking your loved one to a medical appointment.
Almost all doctor’s offices currently mandate masking and it is imperative for you and your loved one to wear a mask that fully covers your mouth and nose for your entire doctor’s office visit. Masks are one of the strongest tools available to fight the spread of infection.
Additionally, many offices are finding ways to institute social distancing procedures. Prolonged and close face-to-face contact increases the risk of transmission of the virus, so regardless of the facility’s requirements, socially distancing is an important strategy to keep your elderly loved one safe.
Finally, you should do everything possible to minimize in-person contact. Ensuring that the visit is as quick as possible will reduce your risk. Ask relevant questions before the appointment and save non-essential questions or concerns for a follow-up call after you’ve returned home.
Masking, social distancing, and minimizing in-person contact are some of the most reliable tools available for minimizing the risk to you and your elderly loved one when going to a medical appointment.
If you or your family member is considering in-home care as part of a plan to age in place, contact Family Matters In-Home Care today for a free consultation. Our team is dedicated to supporting your family and helping older adults enjoy life in the comfort of their own home for as long as possible.
Some of the services offered by Family Matter In-Home Care include: Alzheimer’s & Dementia Care, Bed & Wheelchair Transfer Assistance, Companionship, Housekeeping & Meal Preparation, Personal Care, Recovery Care, and Transportation.
Serving the San Francisco Bay Area and Greater San Diego, Family Matter In-Home Care has offices throughout California including: Campbell, CA, Roseville, CA, San Marcos, CA, and San Mateo, CA.