Posts Tagged: Caregivers

7 Helpful Answers About COVID-19

As the COVID-19 pandemic escalates, we are reminded repeatedly of what preventative measures to take. Social isolation, holding a 6-foot distance from others, and proper handwashing to name a few. However, like many I know, I have also wondered about other preventative measures to take in the new way of living we are all experiencing. Below are some tips that I have found helpful while isolating at home.

  1. Can the virus spread on paper or cardboard?

Many of us are using Amazon and Instacart as well as other delivery services for groceries and items to avoid in-person visits. We know the virus can spread through physical contact and through mucous membranes (eyes, mouth, nose), but what about other surfaces? The length of time the virus stays on surfaces does vary, however, the risk is of obtaining COVID-19 through commercial goods or packages is low, per the CDC.

  1. Can my pet transmit COVID-19 to me?

You may have heard the recent news of the Tiger at the Bronx Zoo testing positive for COVID-19. The tiger showed symptoms consistent with the virus. Animals and our domestic friends have been an important topic at hand as it relates to the virus. Many want to know if animals can transmit the virus to humans and vice versa. As it stands now, these reports and studies have concluded that animals can contract the virus from humans, however, it does not appear that humans can contract the virus from animals.

  1. What do I do if I don’t have an N-95 mask?

N95 Face masks are nearly impossible to find and if you do find them, it’s possible they are counterfeit. The N95 masks filter 95% of airborne particles. It is important to note that the masks are mainly to help persons wearing the masks to not transmit their germs to others. The importance of the mask diminishes once touched and should be removed and replaced with a new mask. Healthcare workers need these masks and are most knowledgeable on how to appropriately and safely wear them. Let’s leave the N95 masks for them and make our own. Below is a great video recently posted by the Surgeon General on how to make a face mask at home. A good rule of thumb is to make sure the fabric blocks out the sunlight from coming through. If you do reuse your mask, fold it inwards to prevent the outside from touching other surfaces and place it in a sealable bag.

Link to Video:

  1. My disinfecting supplies are running low. What should I do?

Groceries stores are limited in supplies, especially disinfecting products. Fully in the throes of the virus, personal supplies of disinfectant wipes and products will be running low. The EPA has a great website on other products to use as household disinfectants. Click Here. You can also dilute household bleach as an alternative!         

  1. Is drinking tap water safe?

As it stands now, yes. Per the CDC website, the virus has not been found in drinking water and should not be of concern at this time.

  1. Can the virus spread through produce I purchase?

COVID-19 is a virus causing respiratory illness. To date, there is no evidence suggesting the virus can be transmitted through food and food packaging. While we know that the virus can remain on surfaces and be transmitted, this is not believed to be the reason of the main factor of the virus spreading. Once the virus is airborne and is on a surface rather than a person, the percentage of the virus being transmitted from that surface diminishes greatly and becomes harder to be transmitted the longer it is in the environment. The FDA (The U.S. Food and Drug Administration) gives facts on the virus and how it relates to production. The website can be found here https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/food-safety-and-availability-during-coronavirus-pandemic.

  1. Which sources are the most reliable on information regarding COVID-19?

There are many websites, blogs, press releases, etc. sharing information on COVID-19. I am inundated with information and have often questioned which facts are true and which are opinions. Regarding general information on the virus, the CDC (Center for Disease Control) website is the best. However, the World Health Organization is reliable also. They have just implemented an alert system to bring the public facts on COVID-19. Check it out here https://www.who.int/news-room/feature-stories/detail/who-health-alert-brings-covid-19-facts-to-billions-via-whatsapp. Regarding your specific county and state interpretation of the virus, regulations, policies, and safety measures, it is best to go to the Department of Health. The Maryland Department of Health website and information resources can be found here https://health.maryland.gov.

Traits of the Best Caregivers

A caregiver is responsible for the health and happiness of our loved ones. Hence, it is essential to find the most suitable caregiver for them. How do you know who is a good caregiver? When evaluating caregivers, look for the following traits:

Compassionate

While selecting caregivers, it is essential to ensure that they are compassionate. Compassion maintains and sustains a bond between the patient and the caregiver. It also enables caregivers to put themselves in the patient’s shoes and understand what they are going through. Empathizing with the elderly can help ease their discomfort.

Patient

As the elderly grow older, their bodies and minds work slower than they used to. They forget things easily and need to be reminded of even daily chores, repeatedly. For this reason, caregivers must be patient, so that they remain calm and collected while taking care of your loved one. Being patient means that they will understand if things do not go as quickly as planned and if the patient is being stubborn.

Attentive and responsive to situations

It is crucial for a good caregiver to be attentive. An elderly patient needs constant care and attention. It is the caregiver’s job to continuously monitor, and recognize the needs of the patient, even if he/she cannot communicate them.

The caregiver also needs to pay close attention to early warning signs and observe any change in skin color, appetite, physical condition, and behavior. Sometimes, the patient is unaware that they need help and the caregiver, noticing the signs, must respond to them immediately.

Good Communicator

Caregivers should have good communication skills such that they can communicate well with the patient and you. The caregiver should share crucial details regarding the patient’s care and inform you about any change in plan or condition.

Enthusiastic and Passionate

Having the passion to do what you love can make a huge difference. A passionate caregiver’s work will be evident in how they treat your loved one. They will be working not for money, but out of genuine interest.

Passionate caregivers will be motivated to improve the health of the elderly and will, therefore, be innovative and creative as they plan activities. 

Dependable and trustworthy

Trust plays an imperative role in building strong relationships.  If the patient knows they can rely on the caregiver, they will communicate and participate more with them.

If the caregiver you are interviewing possesses the above-mentioned traits, then you have found the best caregiver for your loved one.

4 Simple Ways of Helping Someone Cope with Sundowning

4 Simple Ways of Helping Someone Cope with Sundowning

If you have a loved one who suffers from dementia, you might also notice a change in their behavior as late afternoon and early night approaches.  Doctors call this ‘Sundowning, a ‘Sundown Syndrome’, or even ‘late-day confusion’.

People suffering from Sundown Syndrome may show the following symptoms during the latter half of the day:

  • Anxiety and agitation
  • Sadness
  • Restlessness
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Mood swings
  • Hallucinations or delusions
  • Extreme pacing
  • Wandering
  • Rocking

For some people, the symptoms they face diminish immediately. However, for some, they continue on, disturbing their sleeping schedule: leaving them wide awake at night and making them sleepy during the day.

Preventing Sundown syndrome is impossible, however, as a caregiver, you can engage in a number of techniques that can help reduce the ‘late-day confusion’ and agitation that your loved one faces.

The following may help:

1.        Make a schedule and try to follow it

People suffering from Alzheimer’s usually cannot remember new things, which makes it hard for them to develop new routines. This unfamiliarity in their daily life can cause stress and agitation which seems to play a role in causing the symptoms to surface.  Hence, keep your loved ones calm and collected by setting a regular time for eating, sleeping, etc. The familiarity provides them with security.

2.        Light it up for them

Theories to explain Sundowning are many, but one reason that stands out is the change in a patient’s sleep-wake cycle. To address the issues, experts have suggested adjusting the lights in the room – by adding bright or fluorescent lights. This can help prevent those with Sundowning from assuming that it is nighttime, which in turn, will make them less agitated and confused.

3.        Distract and attract

Divert the person away from self-consuming thoughts and anxieties by engaging in activities that they love. These may include engaging in physical exercise, going for walks, or even playing music. Distractions help reduce daytime napping, increasing the chances of peaceful sleep at night.

4.        Be there for them but do not overdo it

Try to stay calm when you’re dealing with a patient or loved one. Do not argue with those suffering, even if they face hallucinations or delusions. Just reassure them, tell them they will be fine and that you are there watching out for them. Your presence in itself offers them the familiarity they crave.

Managing Sundown Syndrome is not easy. It requires patience and time but a little support from you can help ease your loved ones’ anxiety and confusion.

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