How to Help Your Aging Loved One (And Yourself) Through COVID-19

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Caring for an aging loved one is demanding. Adding a global pandemic into the mix makes the role of a family caregiver even more overwhelming.

Whether you are a veteran caregiver or just stepped into the role, you probably already know that preparation is key to success. While the added precautionary steps may just seem like additional tasks on your already long list of to-dos, the price of neglecting them is far too great.

Below are a few tips for family caregivers to minimize the risk of being exposed to COVID-19.

It is quite possible that you will encounter resistance from your loved one when trying to change their routine. This is expected and normal, just remember you are doing your best to get through this difficult time.

#1 Minimize the Risk of Catching COVID-19

The number one thing you can do to stay safe is follow CDC’s, WHO’s, and local officials’ guidelines about social distancing, mask wearing, hand washing, etc. To make it even safer for yourself and your loved one, consider reducing the number of trips out of the house by using new technologies and services.

Telemedicine instead of doctor’s visits

Many doctors are now offering virtual visits by video chat or phone. Your doctor can advise you whether a virtual visit is an appropriate option. A virtual visit allows you to avoid the travel to the office and the likely crowded waiting room. Medicare now covers many instances of virtual visits.

Get your prescriptions delivered

Another way to reduce the number of trips out of the house and into crowded areas is by ordering your prescriptions by mail. National pharmacies like Walgreens provide a mail order option. As do newer companies like Capsule and PillPack. Not only will mail ordering prescriptions save you a trip to the pharmacy, but you may also find that your prescriptions are cheaper through the mail order pharmacies. Furthermore, these virtual pharmacies often provide a 90-day supply of medications so you will have to fill prescriptions less frequently.

Get help with groceries

Going to the grocery store is another chore that increases risk of exposure to the virus. There are a few solutions: you can order groceries online through a service like Amazon or Instacart or you can look for a local volunteer organization that helps deliver groceries to the elderly and most vulnerable.

#2 Social distance does not equal social isolation

Social isolation is known to negatively impact physical and mental health. While we have to keep apart, we can keep apart together by using technology. Video chatting through platforms like FaceTime and Zoom can bring much needed social contact. Many families and friends have weekly “Zoom Dates” during which they share meals and host game nights. 

Many organizations (such as local community centers) host virtual lectures, discussion groups, and exercise classes. Reach out to them to learn if there is something of interest to you.

Here is an easy to follow how to use Zoom guide.

#3 Avoid fraud

There has been an increase in COVID-19 related scammers who target seniors. Common scams include:

  • Posing as IRS or Census officials and asking for personal information
  • Soliciting donations for fake charities
  • Spreading disinformation about COVID-19 treatments, drugs and vaccines

Do not give out your personal information or make donations to anyone you do not trust or know, especially if they are calling you unsolicited. 

#4 Take care of the paperwork

The last thing anyone wants to do during a medical emergency is deal with paperwork. If you’re taking care of a loved one and he or she does not yet have a Healthcare Directive, a Power of Attorney, and a Will or a Trust, consider getting those drafted. These documents spell out the wishes of your loved one in regards to their health and financial assets. You don’t want to be left guessing what those wishes are in case of emergency.

#5 Take care of yourself

Family caregiving is a marathon, not a sprint. It is not selfish to self-care. In fact, it is essential that you take time to rest physically and emotionally. If need be, don’t be shy about asking other family members, friends or social services organizations for help. 

Stay well and safe!

Author avatar


Barbara Brown holds a master's degree in Interdisciplinary Gerontology from Bowling Green State University. She is passionate about improving the lives of older adults and helping them to thrive.