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How Does “Long Covid” Affect Seniors?

Monday , January 25 , 2021

How Does “Long Covid” Affect Seniors?

By now, we all know the signs and symptoms of COVID-19: fever, cough, and shortness of breath. But many people, especially seniors, are experiencing symptoms that aren’t typical – and those symptoms can last for quite some time.

Here’s what you need to know about COVID-19 infections in older adults and what to expect in the long run:

 

COVID-19 in Older Adults 

Senior citizens don’t always display the same signs and symptoms of a coronavirus infection as younger adults. Instead, seniors may just seem “off” or like they’re not acting like themselves. They may sleep more or less than usual, stop eating, or appear confused. They may become dizzy or stop speaking. They may even collapse.

Because seniors often have underlying health conditions to begin with, it may not be obvious that these atypical symptoms are the cause of COVID-19. Unfortunately, missing the early signs of COVID, or attributing them to something else, can stop your older loved one from getting the proper care. In addition, people may go in and out of their homes without adequate protection measures, further spreading the infection.

 

Ongoing Effects 

As many people have learned, the troublesome effects of COVID-19 don’t necessarily stop after you’ve tested “negative.” This is especially true for older adults.

Many seniors who’ve become critically ill from the coronavirus report an ongoing “brain fog” – difficult putting thoughts together or problems with concentration – even after the virus has subsided. This can make it challenging to plan out their day-to-day activities, remember appointments, or even have a conversation.

Other reported issues include muscle and nerve damage, continued shortness of breath, lethargy and fatigue, and depression or anxiety.

According to Dr. Zijian Chen, medical director of the Center for Post-COVID Care at Mount Sinai Health System, while many younger adults experience these same issues, seniors tend to have “more severe symptoms, and more limitations in terms of what they can do.”

Recovery for older adults may take months, not weeks. Many of those who were critically ill may still feel unwell after a year or more and can require rehabilitation services such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, or cognitive rehabilitation.

A Long Road Ahead

Researchers have found that frailty, a clinical condition caused by lack of reserves or energy, leaves those recovering from COVID-19 at risk for sudden changes in health and a higher risk of needing hospitalization or long-term care.

Older adults, especially, may suffer from Post-intensive Care Syndrome – a group of psychological, cognitive, and physical disabilities that may develop after treatment in the intensive care unit.

To help combat these ill effects, doctors suggest starting various therapies as soon as a COVID-19 infection is discovered. Treatments to assess lung capacity, improve cough effectiveness, and increase trunk muscle strength may help reduce the care needed later and lead to less pain.

They note that an emphasis on recovery and rehabilitation is significant for seniors because there is often a limited window in which they can improve. Once muscle strength, function, and flexibility are lost, they can be exceedingly difficult to restore.

While recuperating from COVID-19 may be challenging for our nation’s seniors, it’s not impossible. Catching the virus early in combination with the appropriate therapies can help facilitate a quicker and more complete recovery.

ComForCare can help make the recovery process more manageable. Our in-home care specialists are not only highly qualified, but they’re also kind and compassionate – and whether your loved one requires 24-hour care or only a ride to the doctor, we’ve got you covered. Reach out today to learn more.

Posted in: Health

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What is an Ethical Will and Do You Need One?

Monday , October 5 , 2020

What is an Ethical Will and Do You Need One?

Have you ever heard someone mention their “ethical will” and wondered what in the world they were talking about? We’re here to tell you what you need to know.

First, an “ethical will” or “legacy letter” is not legally binding. They don’t bequeath assets or spell out your last wishes.

Ethical wills are documents that communicate values and life experiences to your family or loved ones. They express your thoughts and feelings about what’s most important to you to those you care about. They can be created by a person of any faith – or of no faith at all.

And many people find that writing down their personal history eases the existential pain about the end of life.

Keep reading to learn more:

How do I Write an Ethical Will? 

Unlike a Last Will and Testament, ethical wills can take many forms. Because they are not a legal document, you are free to be as creative as you want.

Many people choose to simply write up a document, often just a single page. Others create slideshows, photo albums, recipe collections, or a gathering of favorite quotes.

The document (or collection) can be a one-time creation, something you add to at each of life’s milestones (retirement, the birth of a grandchild, etc.), or something you work on throughout your life. It can be intended for your children, grandchildren, spouse or partner, best friend, and more.

There really are no rules!

How do I Create My Ethical Will? 

According to AARP, you should begin your ethical will by “jotting down notes about your beliefs, life lessons and hopes for the future. You might include details about your family history. You also may want to express gratitude toward family and friends or request forgiveness for past actions.”

If you plan on creating a multi-media project, you might also start gathering photos, collecting favorite quotes, filming video, and more.

Ask yourself, “What have I learned during my lifetime that I’d like to share?”

Here are some topics that others have chosen to include in their ethical wills. Feel free to use these questions as you wish, skip some, or add your own:

Values

  • What values are important to me?
  • What are my spiritual beliefs?
  • Are there any special sayings, traditions, or rituals that have been passed down through the family?

Thoughts

  • What would I like to pass down to my grandchildren or other loved ones?
  • What books and movies influenced me and in what way?

Words of Wisdom

  • What advice can I offer to others about living their lives? Do I have any wisdom to pass on to the next generation?
  • What has life taught me?
  • What have I learned from my parents or grandparents that I want to pass on?
  • If I could change one thing in the world, what would I change and why?

Life Experiences

  • What do I want my family to know about me that they might not already be aware of?
  • Have I ever had a life-altering experience? How did this affect me?
  • What was the most significant/meaningful moment in my life?
  • What made my life worth living? A special relationship? Work? Children? Hobbies?
  • Did I fulfill all the dreams of my youth?
  • Who is or was the most important person in my life? What did I learn from them?
  • Were there any others who greatly impacted my life? Who?
  • What am I most proud of?

Decisions

  • What was the most difficult decision I ever made?
  • Is there anything in life I wish I had done differently? Do I need to request forgiveness or make amends with anyone?
  • If I knew I only had one year left to live, what would I do?
  • How did I choose the recipients for my charitable gifts and financial inheritance?

Creating an ethical will is simple, fun, and FREE. Why not start on your own project today and give your loved ones something to cherish for years to come?

Posted in: Aging

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How Seniors can Socialize Safely in the Wake of COVID-19

Monday , July 13 , 2020

How Seniors can Socialize Safely in the Wake of COVID-19

Stay home as much as possible. That’s what we’ve been hearing for months in the wake of COVID-19.

And for good reason.

Experts believe that coronavirus is mainly spread from person to person – sometimes by people who aren’t even showing symptoms. So, it makes sense to avoid others if you want to avoid getting sick. This advice is especially important for older adults, as the risk for severe infection increases with age.

Unfortunately, avoiding others isn’t as easy as it seems. Staying home all the time and not seeing friends or family members can be emotionally difficult, even for the most introverted among us.

Loneliness and social isolation can have a significant effect on mood and can lead to depression and anxiety. When the condition is more long-term, as is happening now, isolation can lead to more severe health problems, such as memory issues and increased risk of heart attack.

Luckily, there are some fun and easy ways that seniors can help combat feelings of loneliness (while also staying healthy and safe). Here are a few suggestions:

Be Neighborly

Joining your neighbor for a cup of joe isn’t currently an option, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t check in on the people that live nearby. Consider swapping home cooked meals or treats and leaving them on each other’s doorsteps. Or try swapping books and movies in the same manner, and having a weekly phone call to share your thoughts.

Write a Note

Old-fashioned letter writing has fallen out of favor since email and texting have become mainstream. But there’s something to be said for snail mail. These days, when mailboxes are filled with bills and junk, it’s a rare treat to find a note from a friend. Letters don’t have to be lengthy, perhaps just a note to say “hi” or to give an update on your family.

Hit the Streets

Sick of sitting at home? Social distancing doesn’t mean you can’t get out of the house, and parks and trails are open in most communities. As long as you maintain a distance of at least six feet and wear a mask, you can enjoy a walk or bicycle ride with a friend.

Pick up the Phone

Nothing can replace face-to-face socializing, but a phone or video call are still great options. Call a friend, family member, or someone you haven’t talked to in ages and catch up. Talk about how you’ve been coping with staying at home, what you’ve been cooking, or favorite television shows to help make it through quarantine. Trust us – everyone wants to hear a friendly voice these days!

Virtual Group Activities

Video chats aren’t JUST for chatting. Many activities can be adapted for the virtual realm, including parties, card games, or a simple meal together. Some groups are even offering larger group activities, such as exercise classes or bingo nights, online. Check out Senior Planet, and organization that offers courses, classes, and other programs for older adults online.

A Note on In-Person Visits

While it’s not advisable, many people are choosing to meet with family and friends in real life. If you find yourself in this boat, there are some steps you can take to remain as safe as possible:

  • Delay or cancel your visit if you or your loved one have had symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to the virus within the last 14 days
  • Remember that the more people you interact with, the higher your risk of contracting the virus. Try to keep gatherings as mall as possible
  • Visit with friends outdoors as whenever possible, or sit in a very well-ventilated room
  • Arrange seating to allow for social distancing (at least six feet apart)
  • Don’t shake hands, kiss, or hug
  • Wear a face mask and ask those around you to do the same
  • Wash hands often and limit contact with frequently touched surfaces

Final Thoughts

Social isolation doesn’t have to end in loneliness. There are many fun and creative ways you can use to stay in touch with those you love. Tell us: How have you been maintaining relationships in the wake of COVID-19?

Posted in: Health

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