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Horizon Elder Law & Estate Planning Blog

Monday, July 27, 2020

Can I Visit my Aging Loved One During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

Caring for aging loved ones is a great responsibility, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. The CDC reports that people 65 and over are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, facing a 31-70% hospitalization rate after contracting the disease, and up to a 27% mortality rate.

However, California elder law attorneys want you to know that you can still visit your aging loved one during the coronavirus pandemic. A few adjustments to your care routine and visiting habits will allow you and your loved one to remain both connected and protected during COVID-19.

COVID-19 Stay Home Orders and Your Loved One’s Health

By the end of March, most states, including California, had implemented strict stay at home orders in response to the dangers of COVID-19. The measure was enacted to slow the spread of the virus and protect the most vulnerable communities.

For many seniors living alone, however, the stay at home orders compounded an already existing struggle against loneliness and depression. And, though hard to measure precisely, strong evidence suggests that, for older adults, social isolation and loneliness are associated with an increased likelihood of early death, dementia, heart disease, and more.

Thankfully, stay at home orders have begun to ease, allowing for a modified return to social interaction under the umbrella of new safety protocols.

Should I Visit My Aging Loved One During the Pandemic?

Social engagement is vital to the mental and physical health of our elders, and how to safely resume interaction during the coronavirus pandemic is a looming question. Alicia Arbaje and Dr. Mary Tinetti, geriatric medicine specialists at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Yale School of Medicine respectively, each assert that while avoiding contact with an older loved one is the best means of preventing exposure to the coronavirus, exceptions should be made for some circumstances:

  • grocery provision
  • homecare help
  • welfare checks
  • mental health
  • extreme frailty
  • limited life-span

With proper precautions, in-person visits with older loved ones will benefit them physically and mentally, reducing feelings of anxiety, uncertainty, loneliness, and isolation in the wake of stay at home orders and social distancing restrictions.

How Do I Safely Visit My Elderly Relative During COVID-19?

In an interview with NPR, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield warned that as many as 25% of individuals infected with COVID-19 might be asymptomatic. When resuming contact with your elderly loved ones, it is best to assume that you may be an asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic carrier of COVID-19. Following the safety precautions outlined below is essential when resuming contact with an elderly loved one:

Before visiting:
  • self-isolate for a minimum of 14 days
  • monitor yourself for signs of infection
  • avoid visiting if signs of infection are present
During the visit:
  • meet outdoors if possible
  • maintain 6 ft of social distance
  • wash your hands regularly and often
  • remove your shoes when entering your loved one’s home
  • clean any containers and surfaces you bring to the home or touch
  • wear protective gear, such as face masks, goggles, and gloves
  • restrict visitors
  • limit visits to roughly 15 minutes

People of all ages become infected with COVID-19. Yet, the elderly are particularly vulnerable to severe illness and death as a result, and protecting older loved ones without sacrificing their general well-being is critical.

If you are concerned about your older loved one’s health and welfare during this difficult time, or if you have additional questions about navigating elder care during the coronavirus pandemic, contact our California elder care attorney today for additional options and information.


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