Is It Safe to Take Mom to the Doctor?
"My 87 year old mother has a doctor’s appointment coming up to check on her heart failure situation. It’s the only way to refill her prescriptions. Frankly, I’m more than a little worried about her picking up COVID at the doctor’s office. We have been so careful to protect her from everyone for the past few months that it now just feels wrong to let her leave the house and put herself at risk.
Am I being paranoid about this virus? Is it safe to sit in a waiting room filled with other people? I’m not sure what to do or what we’ll encounter when we get there. Please advise."
You have every right to be concerned about your mother getting COVID-19. Everyone with elderly parents should be as conscientious as you are in protecting them.
It’s possible to keep mom home until the pandemic ends, but sadly that might not be for another year or so. Since your mom has heart failure, the risk of not being evaluated by her physician may be too big to take. Heart disease, just like COVID-19, may have a very negative outcome. In this situation, you have to weigh the risks. Either way, the possibilities are not good for her.
There are reasonable precautions you can take to protect mom when she visits the doctor’s office. If you decide to keep the appointment, go armed with the best tools to protect her from becoming infected. Here are the steps I recommend:
- Contact the staff at the doctor’s office and ask what measures are being taken to keep people properly distanced in the waiting room.
- Find out if all staff members wear masks.
- Bring hand sanitizer along and use it after touching any door handles, chairs, magazines, etc.
- Don’t sit in the waiting room if others are too close. If necessary, check in with the receptionist and say you’ll be waiting outside the office door.
- Make sure you and your mom keep your masks on at all times.
I believe that you can arrange and manage a safe visit to the doctor. It will take a little bit more effort than you’re used to, though it should be manageable.
If we all work together, we can slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect our most vulnerable. You have done a great job so far.
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