The COVID-19 pandemic has had an incredibly disruptive impact on everyone’s lives. From lockdowns to mask wearing, from endless remote work to devastating job loss, no one has been left unimpacted. In particular, people who are living with chronic diseases have been hit harder by this pandemic than others.

For people living with chronic disease such as asthma, heart disease, epilepsy, or diabetes, management is key to comfort and quality of life. Disease management often requires regular doctor’s visits for tests and scans and to adjust medication. Suddenly, the simple act of leaving your house became nearly impossible and was particularly unsafe for people living with chronic disease.

For seniors who live with chronic disease, the COVID-19 crisis has been especially isolating. Access to personal and medical care became more difficult, and many seniors had to attempt to care for themselves in ways they hadn’t had to before. Now that there is more information about how to navigate life with COVID-19, carers who specialise in chronic disease management services are ready to safely support your senior in their home. Here are five ways to navigate preventable disease while managing chronic disease.

1. Mask Up

Wearing a mask is a simple and effective way to prevent the spread of disease. For people with chronic disease, it is essential to prevent the spread of illnesses such as the common cold, influenza, and COVID-19, because these illnesses can exacerbate the symptoms of their chronic disease.

Seniors living with chronic disease who contract COVID-19 are highly susceptible to severe illness and hospitalisations. Sometimes, it is not safe for seniors living with chronic disease to wear their own mask (if they’re using oxygen, for example) so it is important for carers, family members, and visitors to wear a hospital-grade mask to keep the senior safe.

2. Wash Your Hands

Hand washing is a second simple way to prevent the spread of infections that can worsen chronic disease symptoms. All carers should wash their hands immediately upon entering a client’s home and regularly throughout their shift. Visitors and family should take the same precautions when visiting, as well as in their day-to-day lives.

3. Attend All Appointments

Chronic disease management is most effective when the person living with the condition is able to routinely access medical care. During lockdowns, most doctors have been available virtually.

For seniors, this option may be overwhelming if they are not particularly tech-savvy. Carers can help to coordinate virtual appointments for a time when clients will have available assistance to use the necessary phone app or video call program to meet with their doctor.

If a client can attend an appointment in person, then a carer can help with transportation and navigating the doctor’s office or hospital with all of the pandemic-related restrictions.

4. Stay in Touch

Living with chronic disease can be isolating. During the COVID-19 pandemic where concern around spreading disease through the air has been elevated, many people with respiratory conditions or other chronic disease are staying home even as lockdowns are lifted.

The risk isn’t worth it. However, the isolation is demoralising, and stress and depression also have an undue impact on a person living with chronic disease. Video calls, phone calls, emails, letters, and safe visits outdoors will help to make your loved one feel connected.

5. Keep Alert

The longer the pandemic goes on, people tend to get lazy with their precautions. If you regularly interact with a senior living with chronic disease, it’s imperative that you remain alert to your own health and exposures.

If you are scheduled to provide care to a senior but learn that you have potentially been exposed to COVID-19 or even to a common cold or the flu, coordinate a replacement for the care. While you may feel fine, it is safest for your loved one to not risk an exposure to an illness that could dramatically affect his or her well-being.

A cold can complicate chronic disease for a long time, so it is more loving to your family member to stay away for a time until you’re sure that your risk is negligible.

Seniors living with chronic disease during a global pandemic have had to make great sacrifices for their own health and safety. Carers and family members who support them should remain vigilant about their own health in order to best protect their loved ones.

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