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Your Healthy Family: Keeping the elderly safe: How you can help

Posted at 11:50 AM, May 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-18 13:50:31-04

CLEVELAND, OHIO — Experts are still learning about COVID-19 every day, but so far, we know the elderly population has a higher than average risk of suffering complications from the virus.

As a result, many of us are concerned about keeping our elderly relatives, friends and neighbors safe.

According to Ronan Factora, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic, one way to help our seniors is to minimize their exposure to stores and public places.

“Whether it’s going to be getting groceries, getting medication, coming over to help with small things; we should still make sure we try to address their needs as much as possible,” he said.

Younger people need to take extra caution, especially if they’re not feeling well, by keeping their distance from older friends and relatives.

Dr. Factora said those with multiple-generations of family members living in the same home need to be especially vigilant about social distancing.

Research has shown children may be able to transmit the COVID-19 virus to older relatives, even if they aren’t experiencing any symptoms themselves.

For seniors who need extra care and assistance, Dr. Factora said it’s best to have one dedicated caregiver. Also have a backup plan, in case the designated caregiver becomes ill.

“Utilize the people you know, whether it’s other family members, other friends, or other organizations. This is really a time when the community has to come together to support those who are really at most risk,” he said. “We can do a lot, as a community, to support those individuals and not make them feel so isolated.”

It’s also important to keep in touch with older family members and friends, to prevent them from feeling isolated or lonely.

Make a point to connect with them regularly, whether by phone, or virtually, to make sure they are okay.

“It’s always a good idea to see how that person is doing, and remember you can still contact that person’s physician if you need to,” said Dr. Factora. “Especially if you see worsening depression or if there’s some other issue that’s really coming up and getting worse, then the person who’s keeping contact with them can act as a liaison.”