Fall had arrived in Arvada. As the leaves started to change and the holidays approached, Terry was excited. There was so much to celebrate. Terry was fortunate enough to live in a wonderful assisted living home and had great access to healthcare. Her family checked in regularly with her care team so they could all be on the same page. Every day she participated in the daily activities and social events provided by her community. She loved socializing with her neighbors. Today, she was going to see her doctor to talk about getting the flu vaccine as well as a booster for Covid-19. She didn’t want to be sick over the holidays!
Do you have a loved one who lives in an assisted living or nursing home? Or perhaps they have Alzheimer’s or dementia and require a memory care program. It’s wise for anyone to take extra precautions during the fall and winter months, but it is especially important for the elderly. While seniors living in an adult community have the advantage of being sheltered with extra health precautions in place as directed by the health department, there is always going to be some amount of exposure to the outside world. Seniors love having family members visit and enjoy outings. Here are some ways you can help keep your family member healthy and safe this year.
Your loved one’s assisted living community will need to keep up to date with the latest CDC and state health department guidelines, so they may have temporary restrictions or extra precautions when it comes to visitors. It’s always a good idea to touch base with the hospitality desk before visiting your loved one to see how you could best help protect the community from spreading illness. It’s best to stay home if you have any symptoms of an illness even if you think it’s just the common cold. Children often have frequent exposure to viruses and bacteria from childcare and school settings and must be monitored closely for any potential symptoms if you are taking them to visit Grandma or Grandpa. An illness that is mild to you may be extremely detrimental to your senior and can spread to others in their community. It’s best to be safe and reschedule a visit if you are unsure. Video visits and phone calls can help bridge the gap when your family is sick.
Vaccines. It’s flu season and vaccines are becoming available. You can help protect yourself and your family from spreading the flu by getting vaccinated. Make sure your senior understands the health benefits of the various vaccines offered to them and encourage them to follow their provider’s medical advice. Covid-19 booster vaccines may be a good consideration for those who are advised to get it.
Testing. Vaccines do not guarantee that you won’t become ill. So be on the lookout for any signs that you could be contagious. If you have been exposed to someone with Covid-19, consider taking a Covid-19 test before visiting an adult community.
Basic prevention. Experts say it’s important to make sure you wash your hands frequently to prevent the spread of illness. When you arrive at your loved one’s nursing home, it’s easy to quickly wash your hands before giving them that big hug. If your senior is especially health compromised, you might consider wearing a mask in addition. Touch base with caregivers and your senior’s doctor to see what extra measures you should take to help keep them safe.
Outings. Do you want to invite your elderly loved one to your family Thanksgiving dinner? It may be the highlight of their year. And with Covid-19 restrictions largely lifted, gathering to celebrate the holidays is becoming a reality for many families. Consider advising your guests that a senior will be attending your family dinner so extra effort should be made that everyone coming is healthy. You might also limit the amount of guests you invite to your holiday party this year out of consideration for your senior guests.
Let’s work together to make sure our seniors have their best year yet! Just a few health precautions can make a world of difference. Enjoy all that fall and the upcoming holidays have to offer this year and share that excitement and love with your senior!