Wherever one chooses to live, it is imperative to follow these guidelines for living the best we can in the Covid-19 era:
1). Let go of what you can’t control. Maximize what you can control.
2). Sleep well.
3). Move often.
4). Eat real food. Not too much.
5). Love more, talk less, listen with intent and interest, connect with others, if you can volunteer.
6). De-stress regularly – don’t sweat the unimportant stuff: Gently, breath and sit, with eyes closed. A priceless personal gift. A few times a day.
7). Practice mindfulness. Just relating to what is sensory in the now -sights, sounds, tastes, smells, and touch.
8). Detox from screens whenever; get outside, wash hands, pick flowers, paint, read, write, sew, update the photo albums, rake fallen leaves, plant a vegetable and herb garden….
9). Connect with nature, however: wind, water, earth, vegetation, pot plants, birds, dogs, cats, cloud spotting, stargazing…
10). Develop an attitude of kindness, gratitude, forgiveness, and generosity, for simply being alive and breathing naturally.
Handling the crisis
It is very likely that the elderly might actually handle the crisis as well if not better than far younger folk. Many people with kids are facing a crisis with their children not being in school. Someone will have to be home with them. Who might that be? Older people will likely have fewer work-life issues since most of their own children are older and parents themselves. Older people have been through so much already and have much to be grateful for and they recognize that. That is not to say that this has been easy. There is the issue of isolation from peers and family, the tragic consequence of this disease in many nursing homes, and the proportionally many more elderly people who have gotten sick and died.
Where to live
As always, families will still have to decide where their elderly loved ones should live as they age and possibly need more assistance. Most older people would much rather remain in their own homes. For many people, this is not possible without help. Previously moving into a facility or moving in with family was a potential option. Moving into a facility has many advantages e.g. socialization, meals, activities, safety, etc. In many communities, it is possible to move from independent living to assisted living as the need arose. Cost is definitely a factor since for most people the costs are paid out of pocket. Medicare doesn’t cover this type of care. Medicaid has very strict rules regarding income and assets so many people wouldn’t qualify.
Moving or staying
Moving in with family members or have family members move in with the elderly relative used to be an excellent and inexpensive way to care for an aging loved one. The vast majority of older people were cared for in this way 100 years ago. It was very rare for someone to live in an “old folks home” back then unless there was no family available.
With Covid, things have changed and people are reluctant to move their parents into a facility. This is not surprising considering the cost to people’s lives. The same for people moving their elderly relatives into their own homes where others are actively going out and potentially bringing the virus into the home.
For those people who need help because they can no longer safely live on their own, a very good alternative is in-home care. They will remain in their home and a caregiver will visit every day, every night, a few times a week. Whatever is needed. There is flexibility and the schedule can be adjusted as needed. If the caregiver is referred by a company such as NurtureCare, it is likely that it will be the same caregiver every visit. Continuity of care is critical. Cost is a factor but it is not much different than moving into a facility and they are getting one on one care and attention versus many to one in a facility. The visiting caregiver will wear a mask and follow all the protocols.
There are things that the family can do to help with isolation. With the improvements in technology, it is a simple matter of the caregiver setting up regular zoom calls. There are wifi enabled cameras that allow 2-way conversations. Always on and available. There are games and apps specifically marketed towards homebound seniors. The caregiver will make sure the client is exercising and eating properly and will be able to keep the family up to date with any changes.
Even though these decisions might seem insurmountable, speaking with an outside third party can really help.
There are very good options available that can lead to many more happy years for the family.