Keeping Seniors Safe in Public During COVID-19
As communities reopen across the country, many seniors are looking forward to going back to the hair salon or barber, the grocery store, a relative’s house, or a favorite local restaurant. At the same time, many family caregivers are trying to determine how to protect their senior loved ones from COVID-19 outside the home.
Here are a few senior safety tips for public settings — and some information on how professional caregivers can assist you in protecting your senior during the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the hair salon or barber …
Hair salons and barber shops should follow all public health regulations, including capacity restrictions, staff mask-wearing policies, cleanliness and sanitization practices, and social distancing guidelines. You or your senior should call the establishment in advance of the appointment to make sure the staff is following the required safety protocols.
Your senior should wear a mask at all times when inside the salon and should sanitize or wash his or her hands frequently, especially after touching surfaces such as counters, credit card machines, and door handles. It’s also a good idea for seniors to keep their distance from others and minimize time spent inside by waiting in the car until it is time to start the appointment.
If necessary, an in-home personal caregiver can accompany your senior to his or her appointment and remind him or her to follow the establishment’s safety rules. Your senior’s caregiver can also make sure your loved one remembers to bring essential items, such as a mask and a small bottle of hand sanitizer.
At the grocery store or pharmacy …
If your senior needs to visit the grocery store or pharmacy, he or she must wear a mask and sanitize his or her hands as critical safety steps. Your senior should avoid close contact with other shoppers in store aisles and checkout lines. Be sure to stress the importance of following signs and markings in the store that promote social distancing.
It may also be helpful to make a list of items your senior needs before leaving home to reduce browsing and minimize the amount of time spent in the store. If he or she can avoid going inside the store in the first place, that is better. Consider using the drive-thru pharmacy, grocery pickup, or home delivery services whenever possible.
In addition to meal planning/preparation and providing medication reminders, in-home caregivers can assist with shopping — either by taking your senior to the store or going to the store on his or her behalf.
At a friend or relative’s house …
Social interaction has many emotional and mental health benefits, particularly for seniors who were isolated from loved ones during the height of the pandemic. However, resuming social visits to a friend or relative’s house should be carefully considered based on personal risk factors, the community transmission rate, and comfort level.
You might also consider the following:
Will your senior will be able to social distance?
Will all participants follow public health guidelines?
Is the visit indoors or outdoors
Will there be any shared food or beverages?
How many people will be included?
If your senior wants to social distance even though others don’t, support your senior’s decision to postpone in-person visits and offer to help him or her find alternate ways to connect with family or friends. An in-home caregiver can also assist in communicating with loved ones while providing companionship to alleviate feelings of boredom and loneliness.
At a restaurant …
You can help keep your senior safe by contacting the restaurant in advance to find out what protective measures are implemented and making sure your senior follows all recommended guidelines.
Close contact with large numbers of people in indoor spaces increases the risk of COVID-19 spread, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This means outdoor dining with plenty of space between tables during off-peak hours would be less risky than dining indoors at a crowded restaurant with little social distancing.
If your senior is craving a meal from a favorite local restaurant, an in-home personal caregiver could accompany your older loved one and make sure he or she stays safe — or order and pick up some take out.