With the COVID-19 coronavirus now being a global pandemic, many precautions are being taken in Quebec. 39 cases of the virus have been confirmed in the province as of today, the 16th of March.
In Montreal specifically, there are currently 10 confirmed cases of coronavirus.
For the first time, the Government of Quebec has declared a state of public health emergency. This gives the government more authority to do things like quarantine areas, close schools and other gathering places, et cetera.
Our priority at Complete Care is to keep the older population in Montreal healthy and safe – right now, this is a responsibility that falls on everyone, as the coronavirus is most dangerous for the elderly. Limiting its spread is something we all need to actively take part in.
In this article, we will be covering the most important information for caregivers and family members of seniors in Montreal.
Remember that, even now, the risk of contracting the virus is still considered low. While it is all over the media, the panic has spread even more than the virus itself. Staying vigilant but calm is essential.
A Guide to Keeping Seniors Safe from Coronavirus in Montreal
Social Distancing for Seniors
One of the most important elements of staying safe from infection is what’s known as social distancing. This simply means limiting interactions with groups of people to stop the spread of coronavirus. You’ve likely heard this term being used a lot in the news over the past week.
Estimates vary regarding the fatality rate. However, it’s agreed upon that people over the age of 60 are at a much higher risk for death if they contract the virus than younger adults.
On Saturday, March 14, Quebec Premier François Legault said seniors shouldn’t leave their homes unless absolutely necessary, for things like doctor’s appointments.
The Effects of Social Isolation
Unfortunately, this all means that many seniors will face loneliness in the coming weeks or months. It’s difficult to say how long social distancing will need to be practiced.
Many seniors’ residences are cancelling regular activities, such as movie showings, card games/bingo, and others. Family members will need to reduce their usual visits to parents’ homes in order to protect them.
Additionally, even religious services and places of worship are starting to close their doors for safety purposes. All of these are important aspects of many seniors’ day-to-day lives.
There are other ways to curb loneliness, however. Consider having a phone call once per day with your loved one. A video chat is even better. If you both have phones with FaceTime or a computer with Skype, set up a virtual video chat to keep in contact. Have grandchildren call to check up, also, if possible.
If you do visit an elderly loved one, be extremely cautious. Limit physical contact as much as possible, and wash your hands when you first enter their home and throughout the visit.
Ban to Senior’s Residences Visits in Montreal
Since March 14, non-essential visits to long term care centers and senior’s residences are prohibited. It’s still not fully clear what constitutes non-essential visits, so caregivers may still be allowed to visit to care for the elderly.
This is an effort being made to protect the older population, as well as health workers. By entering a senior’s residence, you may be bringing the infection in with you, or possibly leaving with it.
While it may be difficult to simply stop visiting your elderly loved ones – especially if you are a primary caregiver – it is necessary, at least for the time being. There are things you can do to still help them get through the ‘quarantine’, however.
How to Help Elderly Loved Ones
If your parents live at home, you can help by leaving them supplies. Similarly, while visits to seniors residences and long term facilities aren’t allowed, you are still able to drop off essential items and food to them. You’ll have to simply leave them with the reception staff members, however.
This is only an option if you yourself have not returned from a trip within the last 14 days, and do not have symptoms of the coronavirus.
If you have recently travelled outside of Quebec, do not visit a senior’s home or residence – in fact, you should self-quarantine for 14 days and call 1-877-644-4545 if you begin to show symptoms. This will prevent you from spreading the infection to a more vulnerable population.
What Should You Bring to an Elderly Loved One?
Food: If your parent(s) cannot cook, you can bring them pre-made or frozen meals. You could also bring food that has a longer shelf life; this means things such as peanut butter, canned soups, rice, pasta, and oatmeal.
However, you don’t need to worry about stocking up only on non-perishables. While the situation is serious, it’s not like a natural disaster such as a snowstorm, in that we’re not likely to lose power any time soon. This means foods that need refrigeration (fruits, vegetables, etc) are also good to bring.
Toiletries: Shampoo and body wash are important, as are adult diapers, if needed. Toothpaste and toilet paper are other essentials – but do not hoard.
There’s no need to buy a supply fit for the apocalypse. The isolation will not last forever, and by hoarding items, you’re only hurting others who may need them just as badly.
Soap: You should drop off some soap as well. Washing one’s hands is more important than using hand sanitizer; the latter should only be used when there’s no access to a sink. For seniors who should remain at home, handwashing with soap and water is best.
Bring some alcohol wipes to use in the house. Wipe down door handles, kitchen counters, phones, TV remotes, toilets, and all other surfaces that are frequently touched.
Showering alone is dangerous for many seniors. If you have a private caregiver who can visit, they should provide sponge baths to help keep your loved one clean.
Day-to-day items: Impairments may make it impossible for your elderly parents to do chores such as cleaning up after meals. You could bring them plastic utensils and plates to use for the next little while.
To prevent loneliness and boredom, you could also drop off games such as crossword puzzles or a tablet/phone with games installed.
Medicine: If possible, try to get additional stock of your parent’s prescription medication, just in case. This isn’t always possible, however, so contact your pharmacy to find out.
Right now, the government is prohibiting unneeded visits to seniors to stop the spread of coronavirus. Unless you are a primary caregiver, you should avoid visiting the elderly. This is for their safety.
However, if you need to visit to drop off supplies and food, do so. For the time being, all we can do as individuals is try to prevent the spread of infection and stay calm. The need for social distancing won’t last forever, and the situation will improve.