The holidays are over and the cold weather has settled in. We are encouraged as the COVID-19 vaccine slowly becomes available to health care workers and high-risk groups. However, caregivers are knowingly faced with several long months ahead, while infection rates in our community and the world are still climbing and the cold weather is keeping us indoors.
As we continue to not let our guard down in the environment of COVID-19, taking care of ourselves and our loved ones is certainly more challenging than ever before.
Keep these things in mind, as you plan your caregiving strategy for the winter of 2021:
- Avoid Unnecessary Outings
Although businesses have remained open and people are seemingly becoming accustomed to wearing face masks as they forge ahead with their daily plans, the next few months are still critical in minimizing your exposure to the virus. Plan ahead and be organized when making necessary trips to the supermarket, and pharmacy and when running other important errands. Make a list ahead of time, stay on top of prescription refills and listen to weather reports so that you’ll have everything you’ll need on hand. Take advantage of early shopping hours and delivery services when you can to limit your exposure and simplify your daily demands.
When you do have to go out, be mindful of all requirements for appropriate PPE including face mask coverings, social distancing and hand washing/sanitizing protocols.
- Limit Social Gatherings
It is tempting to invite people over but it is still not safe to socialize in groups. If you do have visitors, ensure everyone wears appropriate face coverings and maintains a social distance of at least six feet apart. Ask where they have traveled over the past few weeks and if they have experienced any symptoms (including a fever, cough, cold, chills). If you are able to get together outside, and to avoid socializing around meals and drinks that require PPE removal, that is the safest alternative.
- Keep Up with Medical Appointments
Early in the pandemic, doctors’ offices were limiting appointments, and patients were missing important medical care, including wellness checks and screenings. If you do need to see your doctor, and a telemedicine visit is not possible, call ahead to make sure you are comfortable with the COVID-19 safety procedures your doctor’s office is following. Many offices are limiting waiting room crowds, requiring COVID-19 screenings prior to every appointment, and instituting PPE mandates for staff and patients.
- Stay Warm and Stay Safe
Keep the temperature in your home warm enough to be comfortable for anyone who is sick or elderly and have extra throws, sweaters, cozy socks and slippers readily available. Weather stripping is helpful to stop drafts in windows and doors. If you haven’t already taken care of maintenance appointments, schedule your annual tune up for the furnace, as well as your car, to avoid any potential mishaps.
When going outside, dress in layers, making sure to cover your and your loved one’s head, hands and feet well. A waterproof outer layer is also important in snowy conditions.
- 5. Make Your Home a Safe Environment
Staying at home more inevitably leads to clutter, which can cause falls and trips to the Emergency Room. Carve out ten minutes each day to pick up anything that can lead to hazards. Go through your home to remove throw rugs (or use a non-skid pad under them if they are necessary), hide electrical cords, and store unneeded furniture that may be getting in the way. Nightlights and outdoor sensors are helpful to create extra light without wasting too much energy. Link here for a pdf of additional tips you can print out and post in your home.
McLean Home Care can provide an in-depth safety evaluation of your home. Learn more by calling us at 860-658-3954.
- Don’t Travel
Hold off on taking that vacation and visiting out of town relatives just a bit longer. If you do need to travel for medical purposes, cars are still the safest way to go. Pay attention to local COVID-19 travel advisories as they relate to any required COVID-19 testing and self-quarantine if you do plan a trip to a neighboring state.
- Don’t Neglect Your Own Physical and Emotional Health
Make time for yourself. A healthy caregiver is a more effective one! This includes keeping up with your own medical appointments, eating a balanced diet, trying your best to get a good night sleep, incorporating a short exercise routine into the day and making the effort to get the support you need if you are feeling stressed and isolated. Keep up your social circle with virtual visits or telephone calls. It is so important for you to feel connected and to have others to laugh and share things with. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you are feeling overwhelmed, whether this means calling an outside service or asking a friend or family member to step in.
McLean’s Continuum of Care can offer you support in many of these areas, including virtual support groups for both you and your loved one, which you can take part in from the comfort of your home. Call us at 860-658-3786 to learn how we can be a resource to you.