How to Stay Connected to Your Loved Ones During This Time

For those of you who are primary caregivers, especially with elderly parents or other family/friends, I would like to share my experience.  Last week I had my first full-fledged encounter with the nursing home where my parents are residents.  When I say that, I mean the first time since a full coronavirus alert has been issued and posted on the front doors and everywhere inside.  The staff seemed to be quite prepared, and of course, so was I.

Upon entering they had a table set up just outside the main reception room where they took your temperature and completed the “check-in” for you, then gave a disposable, sticky name tag.  Along with the nursing staff, I too wore a mask and took my BoomerGuy’s suggestion and donned disposable rubber gloves, as well.  Before entering the main lobby, I was then told by the front office staff not to touch any surface with your hands (even in gloves), your forearms or elbows.  Yes, that makes sense.  Furthermore, I used my own pen to sign documents on behalf of my parents.  

Was I being overprotective?  This morning they had a doctor from New Rochelle, New York on the news and he stated that both masks and gloves were helpful to combat the spread of this virus.  

When I entered the room where both my parents reside, I wanted to shout out coronavirus.  Rather, I simply explained to them this was a particularly bad season for colds and flu, which is true.  I just couldn’t alarm them with something so difficult to explain—as frightening as it is for us Boomers to accept and understand, it would be 1000 times more difficult for them.  It’s imperative not to panic and become fearful, and not to share those emotions with ones you love.  

Under normal circumstances, I walk into the nursing home once a week, and often times more, I simply do not have any other choice as their primary caregiver.  However, as of Saturday, March 14, 2020, a new Federal mandate has closed nursing homes to all non-essential personnel, so I will not be allowed entrance under these new guidelines until further notice.

This is not only a harsh reality of what we’re dealing with on a national, state and local level, but in my estimation, it is absolutely the right thing to do.  The mandate is designed to prevent further transmission of infection to the residents and staff members from the outside, but also to protect visitors from picking up unwanted viral contamination from inside the facility.  The current best guess is the new coronavirus is transmitted via close contact and surface contamination.  Fortunately, I installed a telephone about two years ago so that I can speak to my parents on those occasions when I cannot be present, or they can reach out to me when they need something or simply want to share a prayer.  Now that I’m  excluded entry, the phone will be my conduit for communication.

If and when I’m allowed to enter, I will continue to wipe down every hard surface in my parent’s room (yes, they do share a room, and it works out well since they’ve been married for 70 years) with Clorox wipes.  Furthermore, I will work with hospice and the nursing staff to ensure they are addressing the needs of my parents, at least as I see them.  I have worked very hard to develop an extraordinary personal and professional working relationship with many of these employees, so it is easier to have common goals.  Even if they need something beyond what the nursing home can or will provide, I will do my best to bring that to them.  

In Friday’s blog, I pointed out a number of practices I use every day to prevent the potential spread of diseases and infections.  In continuing that train of thought, here are several additional tricks of the trade to prevent the advancement of coronavirus and to practice exceptional, daily, healthy hygiene.

  • Be careful with your mail, in addition to FEDEX and UPS deliveries.  The virus has been shown to exist on porous surfaces such as paper and cardboard for up to three days.  Handle your mail with disposable gloves or tissue which then get disposed, along with the envelopes.
  • During this heightened crisis, you might even wish to remove the outside cover of your magazines and discard.
  • Try not to reuse your tissues when blowing your nose.  Don’t leave used tissues lying around on surfaces which can become contaminated, so dispose of them immediately after use.
  • Wipe your computer keyboard frequently, along with your mouse if you use one.
  • Wipe down your home light switches and door handles with disinfectant.
  • If you’re entering or exiting a building, restaurant or other facility try to push/pull the door where the majority of people would least touch it, up high or down low on the handle or pushing in on the door itself.
  • The banks have been wanting to push us into a cashless society, and this may indeed be the impetus to achieve that.  In the meantime, try to limit your cash transactions due to the fact the money you will get back as change has been handled by countless people.
  • Use a wipe, tissue or disposable glove when fueling your automobile, also when you use the keypad and/or the touch screen.
  • If you’re in a self-check out line where you need to use a handheld scanner—well, you now know what to do.
  • After being out and about and returning home, do not set your purse on the kitchen counter.  The bottom has been exposed to enough hard surfaces where bacteria and viruses hang out.
  • Be extra diligent at the makeup counter of your favorite store.  Passing around mascara, eye shadow, lipstick, lip liner, etc. is a no-no.  In fact, one or more well-known stores have already discontinued the practice of free make overs using open samples.
  • Go to your bank and get your credit card updated so that it is the new “touch” rather than slide or chip style card.  Use touchless Apple Pay whenever and wherever possible.
  • This might be a bit much but think about kicking off your shoes before entering your home and walking on your tiled, hardwood and carpeted floors.  Place them near the door so all you have to do is slip them on when you leave.  Just think about it.  Please.
  • Be diligent when you go to the gym.  They have always been a breeding ground, but now more than ever.  While you’re there, practice safe hygiene, or better yet, exercise at home with a stationary bike, free weights, exercise bands, pushups, Pilates, yoga, Tai Chi, etc.  
  • Several prominent physicians suggested, when going out, to wear clothing that can be washed immediately upon returning home.  Probably not a bad idea, wish I had thought of it.
  • And, wash, wash, wash your hands thoroughly, in hot water, all the time; it’s never enough.

Hey Boomers, I’m not trying to be an alarmist, just passing along helpful suggestions on how to conduct your everyday.  I’m the first to say, these practices are probably not for everyone, but I can tell you they work for me because I do happen to have a compromised and deficient immune system, and thus very susceptible to virtually everything bad that comes along.  Goodness, what do you have to lose.  These are no-brainers and take very little effort to implement.  As Nike says, Just Do It!!!

Let’s age with grace and attitude, and not let this onslaught get us down.  The media will continue to sensationalize coronavirus and distort facts and recommended routines.  To what end they do this I simply can’t comprehend.  My recommendation is to watch little of the news and rely on your own common sense when it comes to this subject.  We need to step aside from the stress and manage our days to live the lifestyle we want for ourselves and our family.  It’s all about health and wellness, to which this website is dedicated. 

I am your BoomerGal, I am your friend, and I want you to be safe, healthy and happy.  Thank you for taking the time the read my important message.

“The six best doctors in the world:  sunlight, rest, 

exercise, diet, self-confidence and friendship”

Steve Jobs

DISCLAIMER:  While I am not an epidemiologist nor medical professional, I have been practicing safe hygiene for years, and found the suggestions mentioned above to be extraordinarily helpful in preventing colds, flu and other nasty communicable infections.

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