Caregiving for the elderly amid coronavirus pandemic

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WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — AARP reports that Pennsylvania, alone, is home to 1.6 million unpaid family caregivers who routinely carry out difficult healthcare tasks without adequate training.

As the number of novel coronavirus cases rises across the commonwealth, that is becoming increasingly more difficult.

“It’s exacerbated all those daily tasks that they have to do,” Bill Walsh, AARP Coronavirus Response Lead, AARP told Eyewitness News. “It’s also exacerbated their stress. We are combating coronavirus in this country but we are also combating fear, anxiety and isolation. It’s really ratcheted up the pressure of these folks who are already under a lot of pressure.”

Walsh says it is critical for caregivers to have a plan in the event they or their loved one gets sick. He recommends forming a care team of family and friends who can step in as well as taking stock of inventory.

“Identify the essentials of the house. Do you have enough groceries, medicine? We recommend a two-week supply,” Walsh said. “And prescription drugs. Make sure you have a list of prescriptions your loved ones are on and the CDC recommends having a 30-day supply. We think that makes a lot of sense.”

Walsh says it’s imperative that everyone follow the safety guidelines to prevent exposure to COVID-19, but no one more so than caregivers.

According to him, if caregivers get sick they will not be of any use to their loved ones who depend on them.

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