Caring for a Senior with Declining Health During the Pandemic

Written By: Mike Longsdon

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Caring for a senior loved one in decline is already incredibly challenging, and the global pandemic likely made your job a whole lot harder. You have to balance the need to protect your loved one from illness while, at the same time, providing the care and support that they need. This difficult situation may prompt you to start thinking about long-term care. Accessing long-term care through services can benefit your loved one greatly and reduce the caregiving burden on yourself. Here are some things to consider as you navigate this tough decision.

Types of Long-Term Care

As the Pain News Network explains, for seniors facing worsening chronic conditions, long-term care can provide the support they need to enjoy a higher quality of life. The National Institute on Aging explains that there are several types of long-term care, including home-based services and care provided in facilities like nursing homes or assisted living communities. Home-based services can help your loved one age in place while facility care may be better if they need round-the-clock support. The right option for you and your loved one will depend on your unique situation, so take the time to research and consider your options carefully.

Paying for Long-Term Care

Paying for long-term care is another important consideration. Whether you decide to hire a home health aide or move your loved one into an assisted living facility, expect the costs to be steep. Unless your senior loved one has long-term care insurance or robust retirement savings, you may need to discuss the possibility of selling their home to cover their care expenses.

Selling a home during COVID-19 might sound a little scary, but the real estate market has quickly adopted virtual tools to allow for no-contact showings. For example, buyers can check out your home online with the help of 3D walkthroughs and live video-chat tours! To get the ball rolling, find a real estate agent who can help you navigate showings in the virtual age.

Take Advantage of Medicare

Medicare can also help cover some of the care costs for your loved one. Since Medicare can be complicated, take the time to understand exactly which services are covered and how you can make changes to your loved one’s coverage as needed. Keep in mind that you can only make changes to existing Medicare plans during the Annual Election Period (AEP), which runs between October 15 and December 7. Be prepared with all of the documents and information you need to make changes to your loved one’s coverage when the time comes. For example, you will need a list of their healthcare providers and medications, as well as their Medicare card.

Coronavirus Safety Considerations

It’s clear that seniors are vulnerable to COVID-19, so it’s important to take special safety precautions when providing care to your loved one. Make sure your loved one has all of the supplies they need so they can avoid leaving the house for essential things like groceries and prescriptions. When you’re providing care, wear a mask and wash your hands frequently. Keep in mind that isolation can also be harmful to seniors, so if you’re limiting your visits during the pandemic, keep in touch with frequent phone calls and video calls.

Avoiding Burnout

Taking care of a loved one with a declining physical condition can be very stressful, especially during the pandemic. Not surprisingly, this can take a huge toll on both your body and mind. Before the demands on your time, energy, and mental resources lead to caregiver burnout, take some steps to cope with stress. For example, AARP recommends joining a support group for caregivers and making your own health a priority. Reducing your caregiving responsibilities through long-term care services can also help.

People around the world are finding ways to overcome the barriers of caring for senior loved ones during the coronavirus crisis. Whether you’re considering moving your senior loved one into a long-term care facility or hiring an in-home health aide, take steps to protect their health — and your own well-being — as you navigate these challenges.

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