Balancing work, family, and caregiving responsibilities for your older relatives is challenging under normal circumstances. COVID-19 has added additional stress as older adults have been urged to limit contact with others as much as possible. It can be hard to stay away from your older loved ones, but it's essential for everyone’s safety. People aged 60 and older, especially those with conditions like heart or lung disease, are at a higher risk of serious illness due to COVID-19.
Here are some tips for supporting your elderly loved ones when visiting them in person is not an option:
- Check in with your older loved ones often. Virtual communication can help you and your loved ones feel less lonely and isolated. Schedule a weekly telephone or video chat, send a daily text message, or check in via social media.
- Send cards and letters. Getting a letter or card from you or your children can brighten your loved one’s day.
- Send or drop off a care package. The CDC recommends that everyone stock up on enough food and other supplies to stay home for a couple weeks. Because it might be hard for older people to get to the store, put together a care package of things you know they'll need such as canned goods, over-the-counter medicines, and cleaning supplies.
- Know what medications your loved one is taking. Try to help them maintain a 4-week supply of prescription and over-the-counter medications. Monitor other medical supplies (oxygen, incontinence supplies, wound care, etc.) and create a backup plan if materials run low.
- Make note of special considerations for seniors in care facilities. If you have a loved one who lives in a care facility, monitor the situation, and speak with facility administrators or staff over the phone. Ask about the health of the other residents frequently and know the protocol if there is an outbreak.
Your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Can Help
Caring for a loved one can take an emotional toll, especially during an outbreak like COVID-19. It is important to remember to reach out for assistance and to take care of yourself. Your EAP is here to support you as you navigate these difficult times.
Your EAP can also provide resources and referrals for all of your eldercare concerns, including referrals to state-specific programs that can help you manage your eldercare responsibilities, legal referrals to assist you with any legal issues that you are facing, and financial consultation to help you plan for your retirement and to help you manage financial concerns that your elderly relatives might be facing.