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What Older Adults Need to Know About the Covid-19 Vaccine

Monday , January 11 , 2021

What Older Adults Need to Know About the Covid-19 Vaccine

Older adults are among those most at risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19. That is why, now that vaccines against the virus are being distributed, seniors will be some of the first to receive them.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has recommended that people living in long-term care facilities, as well as those 65 and older, be included in Phase 1 of the COVID-19 vaccination program.

While distribution will vary from state to state, here in New Jersey, all residents aged 65+ are eligible for vaccination beginning January 14.

As you get ready to receive the vaccine, you may have some questions. That’s understandable.

In this blog, we address some of the most common queries older adults have about the COVID-19 vaccine so you can feel more comfortable as you move forward with the process.

Keep reading to learn more:

Older Adults and COVID-19

According to the CDC, “risk of severe illness increases with age, with older adults at highest risk.” In the U.S., 8 out of 10 COVID-19 deaths have been in adults aged 65 and higher, and those aged 85 and higher have a 630x greater chance of death.

One of the reasons older adults are so likely to become gravely ill is underlying medical conditions, such as COPD or diabetes. To mitigate risks, experts recommend that older adults continue with their regular treatment plan and have at a least a 30-day supply of any medications. Most importantly, they say that you SHOULD NOT avoid going to the hospital or doctor office out of fear of contracting COVID-19.

Vaccine Distribution

The CDC has recommended that states give vaccine priority to health care workers, long-term care residents, essential workers, adults with high-risk conditions, and those aged 65 and older (in that order).

Already, more than 9.3 million doses of vaccine have been administered across the U.S. – mostly to healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities. Soon, the process will be opened to those aged 65 and older (some states, such as Florida, have already begun inoculating older adults).

It is estimated that about 50 million doses of vaccine should be available this month, followed by another 60 million doses in February and March. That’s enough vaccine for roughly 85 million people, and should be enough to immunize medical personnel, front line workers, and older adults.

Getting the Vaccine

There are two authorized vaccines in the United States (Pfizer and Moderna), and both require two shots to be effective. Vaccine doses are purchased with U.S. taxpayer dollars and will be given to the American people at no cost, however vaccination providers may charge an “administration fee” for giving the shot. The fee may be covered by your insurance company or, if you are uninsured, by the Health Resources and Services Administration Provider Relief Fund.

Each state has its own plan for who will be offered the COVID-19 vaccine first. For more information on when you may be eligible, contact your state health department.

Is the Vaccine Safe For Older Adults?

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been tested in adults aged 65 and older. Research shows that they are safe and effective at preventing illness due to COVID-19. Since it is known that older adults can become gravely ill from COVID-19 and are more likely to die from the infection, it is highly recommended that they receive the vaccine.

What are the Side Effects?

Based on what scientists have seen so far, there seem to be few side effects. Most often, recipients have noted symptoms such as:

  • Soreness at the site of injection
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Low-grade fever

Please note that if you are on chemotherapy to treat cancer or immunosuppressants (such as post-transplant), you may experience additional side effects and you should speak to your doctor before receiving your first dose.

Do I Still Need to Wear a Mask Post-Vaccine?

Yes. The CDC recommends that during the pandemic, people continue to wear a mask that covers their face and nose, even after receiving the vaccine. It is unknown whether vaccinated people can become carriers of the disease and spread it to other people, leaving the possibility that they could become silent spreaders of COVID-19.

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Grief in the Time of Covid

Monday , December 7 , 2020

Grief in the Time of Covid

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected our lives in many ways. Many people have experienced feelings such as sadness, depression, anxiety, and anger.

Experts say these feelings may be signs of grief.

Understanding how a loss of normalcy can cause grief, and knowing how to handle it, can help you cope with the changes in a healthy way.

Keep reading to learn more.

Identifying Grief

Grief is often associated with illness and death, but it can be brought on by any traumatic event. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, many people are experiencing grief because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Often, individuals don’t even realize that grief is what they’re dealing with – but properly identifying the symptoms is the first step in fighting it.

Signs of grief may include:

  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Fear
  • Fatigue
  • Problems sleeping
  • Changes in appetite
  • Muscle tension
  • Much more

Grief During Covid-19

Grief comes in many forms, for many different reasons, during the current pandemic. Many people have lost a loved one to the virus. Others have lost jobs or homes.

Almost all of us have lost the ability to foster social relationships, take part in recreational activities, and even the freedom to leave the house.

These changes to daily life can cause feelings of grief – especially when they’re all piled on, one after another, with no known end in sight. 

Coping with Covid-Related Grief 

The first step in dealing with grief? Embrace the process. No matter what caused your feelings of sorrow, it’s important not to ignore or suppress them. Here are some ways to cope:

  • Connect virtually. For those dealing with grief during the pandemic, it can be beneficial to find a way to connect with others. Because we’re limited in our ability to meet face-to-face, many have been turning to video chats as a way to stay in touch. Something as simple as a Zoom call and seeing a loved one’s face can make a world of difference.
  • Find meaning. Your loss – whether it’s the death of a loved one or a missed social connection – can feel unimportant when the entire world is dealing with similar issues. But your grief IS valid. Many people find that faith, whether religious or otherwise, helps them find a sense of meaning.
  • Understand that grief is a universal experience. Know that you are not alone. Thousands of people across the globe are going through exactly the same thing as you are right now. Be as patient with yourself as you would with others.

Final Thoughts

Covid-19 isn’t going to last forever, and we WILL get through this. In the meantime, understand that what you’re feeling is normal. If you need help dealing with your grief, these resources from the CDC may be helpful: http://bit.ly/34DRqyY

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Caregiving During Covid-19

Monday , November 30 , 2020

Caregiving During Covid-19

Family caregiving is a satisfying, worthwhile job, but it can also be stressful and demanding.

With Covid-19 in the mix, caregiving can become an overwhelming task for already stressed family members.

In addition to the usual stress and anxiety, caregivers experiencing burnout may experience extreme emotions, including depression, anger, and resentment.

As a caregiver, taking care of your mental health and overall wellbeing are important, especially during these unprecedented times.

Keep reading for some easy, realistic ways you can take care of yourself now and throughout your caregiving journey:

Reduce the Risk of Getting Coronavirus

Covid-19, like any serious illness, can add a lot of stress and worry to a caregiving situation. To help keep you and your loved ones safe, use the following CDC-recommended protocol:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Wear a mask that securely covers your nose and mouth
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from others and avoid crowds
  • Monitor your health daily – watch for fever, cough, and other common symptoms
  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces in your home often

Take Care of Yourself

You know that old saying, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy?”

The same is true of caregiving. If you’re not happy, healthy, and well, the person you care for will also suffer.

There are several simple, convenient things you can do to help keep yourself well throughout the year. These are our suggestions:

  • Maintain an overall healthy lifestyle. In times of uncertainty, it’s easy to fall into an unhealthy routine. However, maintaining a healthy lifestyle by eating well, getting regular exercise, and keeping a normal sleep schedule can help boost your physical and mental well-being.
  • Limit stress. Put the kibosh on stress by limiting your time on social media, avoiding upsetting news stories, and limiting contact with negative people. Instead, try spending time outdoors, connecting with loved ones, or taking up a new hobby like meditation or yoga.
  • Improve sleep. As a caregiver, sleep is often the last priority. Unfortunately, lack of rest leaves you more vulnerable to both physical and mental health afflictions. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day and take measure to improve rest such as using a white noise machine or taking a melatonin supplement.
  • Take breaks. Taking a long break may be an impossibility during your day. Instead, try to take several mini breaks when you can to help relieve stress and improve focus. Some suggestions include a quick walk around the block, sitting down for a cup of tea or a snack, watch a few minutes of cute animal videos on YouTube, or call a friend for a quick conversation.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. While everyone’s lives are different, we’re all going through this pandemic together. Reach out to friends and family who are familiar with your situation when you’re feeling too stressed or consider joining a caregiver support group.

Watch for Signs of Burnout 

Caregiver burnout can happen at any time, in any relationship, but the risk is heightened during times of increased stress like the current pandemic.

Be aware of sign and symptoms such as:

  • Overwhelming anxiety
  • Increased fatigue
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Difficulty completing everyday tasks

If you suspect that you may be suffering from caregiver burnout, consider making more time for yourself. Ask a friend or family member for help if possible, or contact ComForCare for more information about our respite services.

Posted in: Caregivers

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