March 24th, 2020 | COVID-19 Helpful Information
The current shutdowns of some businesses and services due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic cause special difficulties for seniors who ordinarily need assistance with mobility and daily living. Stocking them up with some essentials will at least help see them through. You probably already have toilet paper and hand sanitizer top of mind, if you're like everybody else, and don't need to list that. But as shopping in the stores becomes more prohibitive, your list of essentials to have on hand could grow considerably.
A list of essentials includes many items an ordinary emergency preparedness list, so that's a good place to start and is something anyone should have on hand, anyway. This following is modified from list made for seniors by seniors, available on the Red Cross website:
❏ Water — one gallon per person, per day (2-week supply for home)
❏ Food — Choose foods that do not need cooking (canned, dried, non-perishable foods such as granola bars; a 2-week supply for home)
❏ Flashlight with extra batteries and bulbs (not candles)
❏ Battery-operated or hand-crank radio
❏ Batteries of all common sizes: D cell (ordinary flashlight), AA cell, AAA cell, AAAA cell, 9-Volt (common smoke detector, garage door opener) battery, CR2032 battery, LR44 battery
❏ First aid kit and manual
❏ Medications (7-day supply) and medical items. Be sure to consult the physician of your loved one or the person you're caring for. Do not try to make decisions on which medicine should be provided.
❏ Multi-purpose tool (several tools that fold up to pocket size)
❏ Sanitation and personal hygiene items (toilet paper, plastic garbage bags)
❏ Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, insurance cards)
❏ Prepaid cash card (available at supermarket) for emergency cash, such as food delivery
❏ Cell phone with an extra battery and charger (s)
❏ Family and friends’ emergency contact information
❏ Cash and coins (ATMs may not be accessible)
❏ Emergency blanket
❏ Map(s) of the local area
❏ Whistle (to attract the attention of emergency personnel)
❏ Pet supplies (including food and vaccination records)
❏ Pack of cards to provide entertainment and pass the time
If your loved one lives in a senior living residence that is under shutdown, their routine dining schedule may be affected, especially if they're being delivered meals to their apartments. This puts greater need for a diverse collection of snacks and prepared foods that they can access on their own.
The styling salon and barber will probably not be operating, so they may appreciate grooming items. If you usually do their laundry, they may also need a supply of detergent and other laundry items.
Also, contact the senior living community for their protocols and be careful to observe them. It's likely that you will not be able to visit your family member, but you will be able to drop off the items they need.
Activities of Daily Living
This list has been culled from a more comprehensive list of Elder Care Products and Equipment, from the website agingcare.com. We haven't listed things such as medical beds and home security systems, because those are not last-minute purchases.
❏ Personal Alert System (a wearable electronic device designed to summon help in an emergency)
❏ A extra waterproof mattress pad
❏ Extra disposable incontinence underpads
❏ Additional lighting, including night lights and a reading light
❏ Medication organizer or alarmed dispenser
❏ Button loopers and zipper pulls for easier dressing by themselves
❏ Touch-tone telephones with large buttons, speaker or hands-free capabilities, and/or text capability for those who are deaf or hard of hearing (TTY or TDD)
❏ Low vision aids (magnifying glass) to assist with reading and other activities
❏ Kitchen tools that make opening cans and jars, peeling vegetables, and cutting and dicing ingredients easier and safer
❏ Disposable plasticware to save dishes piling up and to keep the kitchen sanitary
❏ Baskets or other accessories for mobility equipment to assist in carrying items
❏ Anything that will help organize and keep close at hand frequently needed items, like a caddy for remote controls.
❏ Lift chairs for those who have difficulty getting in and out of a seated position
The current COVID-19 outbreak creates a new and unfamiliar environment for all of us. It may be hard to anticipate everything your senior may need. One thing to do is to remember when you encounter something you need yourself that your senior may also need. Place it on your list and buy extra when you shop.
Don't forget the one essential that they cannot keep with them unless you provide it: personal contact. Think of it as nutrition for the mind and spirit. Isolation can be depressing and stressful, but when it's isolation because of a health crisis, the fear and uncertainty can be oppressive and unhealthy. Frequent texts are good, if they're mobile-phone-savvy. But phone calls, Skype or Facetime are special and personal. They may just need to hear a reassuring voice.