Guardian Carers Feature on BBC News London

The coronavirus impact on the elderly & what we can do to protect them

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The recent coronavirus (COVID-19) has spread to more than 110 countries around the world and claimed the lives of thousands. In the UK, the numbers have risen to more than 700 at present.

The most vulnerable people in our society are the elderly and those with underlying health conditions. That is why we should do our best to limit the impact this virus could have on their lives. The best thing to do is to follow the government and NHS advice. If you need a carer or know someone who needs support being looked after, search for carers here.

How is the coronavirus impacting the elderly?

The coronavirus poses a risk to everyone, but the elderly are the ones who are particularly at risk of getting the virus and developing complications due to it. If you are experiencing even mild symptoms, you should limit the amount of interaction you have with elderly people or loved ones.

In the past week, the advice given to combat the impact of the coronavirus is for people to self-isolate themselves. After many offices have asked their employees to work from home, in the case of the elderly, care homes have also started to follow the same coronavirus advice.

Many places are starting to take precautionary measures, such as limiting the amount of contact loved ones have with elderly residents. While this may cause some distress to both families and elderly people, it is a measure highly necessary to protect the lives of the elderly from the coronavirus.

If your elderly parents or grandparents are still living at home, you should still try to limit the visits to their home. Though this may feel like an upsetting measure for both parties involved, it’s efficient in protecting the elderly and preventing further spread of the virus. If you do choose to see your family, make sure you wash your hands and sanitise often. Keeping a safe distance from them is also recommended.

What are the best care options for the elderly?

The elderly are the most at risk of getting coronavirus. For an elderly person residing in a care home, the risks of contracting the virus are higher than being within their own home. At the moment, care homes have not restricted access to visitors completely. Your loved one can be easily exposed by being around visitors in the care home.

The best way to protect the elderly is to limit their contact with other people as much as possible. Considering to move your elderly parents or grandparents back in the comfort of their home, where they will only interact with one carer will be in their advantage. This way, you can be aware of what happens to them at all times.

It’s well-known that the rates for hiring a carer at home, as opposed to care homes are much cheaper. A live-in carer from Guardian Carers can be anything from £100 to £140 per day, whereas a live-out carer can charge between £10 to £15 per hour.

With our carers, you can be assured that you will welcome into your home a person who has been thoroughly vetted and prepped in advance. Many of our carers have prior experience of working as nurses. They have extensive qualifications and certificates in elderly care.

Our 15 years of experience have made us experts in the placement of carers in clients’ private homes. Our clients are fastidious people who appreciate our extensive vetting methods, which include interviewing all carers, checking their references verbally and requesting enhanced DBS/Police checks.

How can you stay connected with elderly family members?

Even if you do not have symptoms, you may still be carrying the coronavirus but may be asymptomatic. The risk to your elderly relatives is not worth the risk of them getting sick. Try to replace in-person visits to phone calls and video calls. If they are particularly vulnerable, try to check-in on them by phone often.

We live in the time of social media, which means that keeping in touch with loved ones is easier than it’s ever been. While not being able to see your loved ones face to face may cause some distress or sadness, keeping in touch more often will ease off the distance. Keeping in contact very often will keep feelings of isolation at bay.

Why not go back to the old-fashioned way of doing things? If you are worried about your elderly members of the family feeling lonely during this pandemic, why not send them a letter to remind them that you are thinking of them? Elderly people cherish physical things such as hand-written letters more. A letter will be something which they will be able to go back to and re-read as often as they need.

How can the elderly protect themselves from coronavirus?

The same guidelines apply to every person, whether young or elderly. The elderly should follow the advice given by the government and the NHS:

  • Wash hands often (for at least 20 seconds)
  • Use hand sanitiser if soap is not available
  • Avoid large crowds
  • Keep a safe distance from people (1 meter at least)
  • Avoid having family and friends over

Limiting social contact is by far the most effective way to stop the spread of coronavirus to the elderly. If you are worried about your elderly family in their home and wish to limit their exposure to the virus, you should consider ordering groceries for them at home. This was they won’t have to be out near many people.

If your elderly loved one is receiving care at home, you should make sure the carer is taking extra precautionary methods when coming into their home. They should wash their hands thoroughly before meeting the elder person. Surfaces such as doorknobs, sink taps, tables and chairs should also be disinfected. If possible, a carer should also try to maintain a reasonable distance, when possible.

What are the coronavirus prevention methods for the elderly?

The elderly are the most at risk of getting the coronavirus. The NHS says that elderly people are generally classified as over 65, but this can certainly differ. What can the elderly prevent the risk of getting coronavirus? And what can you do to prevent your elderly loved ones from contracting the coronavirus? This is the coronavirus prevention advice:

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water
  • When coughing, use a tissue and then dispose of it
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with other people such as shaking hands or kisses on the cheeks
  • Avoid close contact with people who are not feeling well
  • Disinfect surfaces in the home (doorknobs, cupboard and fridge doors, sink taps, etc.)
  • Maintain a healthy diet
  • Drink water regularly
  • Limit the time you spend outside, in public transport or taxis
  • Consider ordering groceries instead of going to the supermarket
  • If you planned to travel outside the country, consider postponing your travels

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

Coronavirus is a flu-like virus which infects the lungs. The symptoms of coronavirus start with a fever, followed by a dry cough. This can then lead to breathing difficulties. Symptoms also include high fever.

The symptoms of coronavirus usually start to show within 5 days of contracting the virus. Some people who have the virus may even experience symptoms later. The latest government advice for people who are coughing or are experiencing a high fever is to self-isolate for 7 days at home.

It’s essential to know that 80% of people develop mild coronavirus symptoms. This means fever, cough and sometimes pneumonia. 14% develop severe symptoms such as difficulty breathing and shortness of breath.

After the latest developments, people are advised not to phone the NHS 111 number, if you are experiencing mild symptoms, as the system is under pressure.

If you are suspecting you have coronavirus symptoms, do not go to your GP or A&E.

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