Is It OK to Visit Older Family Members at Home Now?

July 15, 2020 | BY PHS Staff

Although stay-at-home orders are being eased in some areas of the nation, questions about whether it’s OK to visit older relatives are still at the forefront of public discussion. And now, in recent days and weeks, with the rise in COVID-19 cases in many states, public health officials are warning people to be more careful when they’re going out to visit others. So, is it safe to visit grandma and grandpa?

While Gettysburg home care service providers have been taking diligent steps all along to provide the safest level of care, you may be concerned about bringing germs into the home of your elderly or immune compromised loved ones. Senior home care may be taking good care of your parents, but you understandably want to know when you can get back to normal.

Seniors: Weighing the Risks

Seniors who get COVID-19 are at a higher risk of developing dangerous complications, but on top of that, it’s possible to carry the virus and transmit it to others even when you may not feel sick. That being said, isolation also comes with serious ramifications: Prior to the pandemic, 24 percent of adults 65 and older living independently (translation: not in nursing homes) were already suffering from loneliness and isolation, according to a report on AARP.

The U.S. already had a crisis of loneliness, and the pandemic blew it wide open. Social isolation has long been known to impact mental well-being, but it’s also associated with a higher risk of stroke, dementia, heart disease and premature death. People who can maintain strong social bonds will, in general, lead longer, happier, healthier lives, which is why companion care is so important.

While technology has certainly helped people stay in touch over the last several months when in-person visits wouldn’t allow it, many can agree it’s just not the same as interacting in person and giving someone a hug. And FaceTime is not going to help your elderly parent who relies on family members to stock the kitchen with food, take out the garbage or water the lawn. Managing these types of logistics while keeping a safe distance gets even more difficult when your loved one’s cognitive skills are compromised.

With increased testing leading to more positive cases, and due to the belief by experts that the coronavirus is spread largely by asymptomatic carriers, any in-person visit carries a degree of risk. As much as we possibly can, we should try to limit contact with our elders and immune compromised loved ones to keep them safe.

Even so, there are some situations where maintaining contact after a long separation is worth the risk. The pandemic isn’t over, not by a long shot, but because it’s been so prolonged, it’s time to start making trade-offs. In general, if you’re feeling well and taking the necessary precautions, it’s OK to resume a real-life connection.

Tips to Resuming That Connection

Most transmissions are believed to happen in households, which means a young person can bring the virus into the home and spread it to older, high-risk people, says NPR. It’s important to take precautions when you do venture out for a visit.

  • Prepare the kids, or leave them behind: Make sure your kids understand that they can’t go inside, sit on Grandma’s lap and give her a hug. If they are too young to understand why, leave them at home and plan a visit another time. Make sure they know these rules are in place out of love and not fear, and that they will be temporary.
  • Wear protective gear: Keep a face mask on during your visit. Make sure your loved one is wearing one too. In some circumstances, such as if you will be handling their groceries, wear gloves.
  • Stay outside if you can: Research shows that transmission is less likely to happen outdoors. Maintaining at least six feet of distance, while sitting in lawn chairs and talking, should be just fine. If you have to enter the home to fix something, change a light bulb, or reach an item high up on the shelf, take off your shoes, wear a mask and wash your hands.
  • Make it a quick visit: The longer you’re together, the greater your chance of passing the virus along. Prolonged exposure is considered anything more than 15 minutes. If you want to stay longer, keep your distance and wear a mask.

Contact Preferred HealthStaff

Let us put your mind at ease with our elderly home care services, which place health and safety at the forefront. To learn more about how we keep your loved ones safe, please contact us toll free at 866-943-9791 or in Fairfield 717-642-8500.