To Our Clients and Family Members: We wanted to provide you with an update on our team’s approach to caring for you or your loved one during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
We are happy to let you know we have no cases of the Coronavirus amongst our clients. During our screening/nursing reviews, we identified two of our associates (out of 249 caregivers), that we felt needed testing – even though they were being medically treated for something else. Both were diagnosed with the virus and we are happy to report they both are on their way to a speedy recovery.
Our case managers and nurses continue to monitor our clients regularly for any change of condition, supply needs or special needs. When we start a new client, we begin in a quarantine mode with personal protection equipment (PPE) in place and ask the client if possible, to also wear a mask. We utilize the notion of, “remember that your mask protects me, and my mask protects you. “
Seniors and Symptoms of COVID 19
What we are learning on the front lines is this virus is more often silent in seniors and the display of symptoms can vary some from the regular screening protocols you see put out by CDC or on the news. We have trained all of associates to look for some of the more atypical symptoms for COVID-19 – along with the classic symptoms of shortness of breath, sore throat, cough or respiratory symptoms.
We have found in our assisted living practice that loss of appetite, followed by confusion, and extreme weakness is the major presenting complex for COVID-19. The symptoms are often masked by the effects of decreased social interactions with family, staff, and the community combined with less activity due to the quarantine in the rooms and or depression due to the “shelter in place” order.
Dr. Camille Vaughn, the Emory section chief of geriatrics and gerontology reports that she feels that older adults don’t present in a typical way. Like her, more and more clinicians are reporting a cluster of atypical symptoms where a senior may seem “off” — not acting like themselves ― early on after being infected by the coronavirus. They may sleep more than usual or stop eating. They may seem unusually apathetic or confused, losing orientation to their surroundings, dizzy and prone to falls.
Dr Outslander, a professor of geriatric medicine at Florida Atlantic University Schmidt College of Medicine states that at advanced ages, “someone’s immune response may be blunted and their ability to regulate temperature may be altered.”
“Underlying chronic illnesses can mask or interfere with signs of infection,” he said. “Some older people, whether from age-related changes or previous neurologic issues such as a stroke, may have altered cough reflexes. Others with cognitive impairment may not be able to communicate their symptoms.”
But what we do know and stress, is the importance of recognizing any danger signs early in seniors. With COVID, they may deteriorate rapidly if the virus is not treated early in the infection stages. We encourage our associates to call our nurses for any changes in condition and/or for a quick review. Our case managers are calling our clients more as well.
We have also found that taking pulse oximetry, will show us those individuals whose O2 level is decreased and this might be a good vital sign tool for you to have in the home along with a thermometer and blood pressure machine.
We are checking with our care associates and clients on supplies. Ready access to supplies is so important as you never know when you or your loved one will come down with symptoms. We have left emergency kits at your home, but these will only help you for that day and interaction. We are trying to get access to more PPE and supplies and encourage you to do the same.
We spend a good bit of time on searching for PPE and other supplies and would be glad to share information or help you when supplies are more available. It is important for your protection that you have on hand gloves, a thermometer and a blood pressure machine that works, pulse oximeter, masks and n-95 or surgical mask with face shield if you have or suspect COVID-19, isolation gown for personal care when you have COVID and hand sanitizer and gloves are needed all the time.
Email me firstname.lastname@example.org if you need supply procurement companies or sites or when we can access more supplies, please let us know your interest.
Remember, we are here for you to help your mind, body and spirit so give us a call if you have any questions or need more support. Wendy Adoo, an activity therapist on our staff is helping our care associates with some engagement ideas that that they can use with you and your loved one. Also, Dawn Reed, from Aloha to Aging, has some YouTube videos and one especially we like on chair yoga.
Ensuring your safety is our mission. We want to serve you and reach out to any of you who may need more check in visits to decrease isolation or to monitor symptoms. In this time of isolation for seniors, be mindful, now is not the time to venture out as things are reopening and if you must, wear your mask and wipe down your packages, car and pocketbook.