Who Takes Care of Dad When I'm Sick?
"I’m the person who cares for Dad, and I worry about contracting the COVID-19 thing going around. Because then what? Who takes care of Dad? He is quite elderly and dependent on me. I don’t have any great solutions for this and it obviously hasn’t come up before. I help Dad bathe weekly, I prepare his food and take him everywhere. Please give me some advice on this."
We are experiencing an interesting and alarming time right now—the current worldwide pandemic has a very high mortality rate for those over 80 who contract the virus. You are wise to be thinking about this and planning.
First, I’d recommend securing a backup squad to cover the basics. Tap siblings, neighbors and even local groups that help seniors, and try to have a plan in place before becoming ill. Being a solo caregiver in our current situation is not a safe situation. Maybe you could agree to swap some of your duties with a friend who is also caregiving for a senior, if either of you becomes ill.
Food is the first basic for which to plan. IT can be delivered and ordered by phone or online. Most communities have at least a few restaurants that deliver. Call around and find out what’s available so you’re ready if you get sick. If you father can reheat things, it should be quite easy for him to eat ready-made meals from the store or meals you have prepared for him ahead of time and stored in his freezer.
Bathing can be postponed if you’re not well enough to visit and do it. Dad may not smell as good as he does with your usual bath schedule, though it will likely not harm him if he has to go two to three weeks without a bath. The best solution would be to find someone else to assume this task.
If your father is able to take a cab or use a rideshare app, those are the best options. If you become ill, you should not be in an enclosed space with your father such as a vehicle.
Take measures to protect yourself from the virus. Wash your hands carefully with soap and water before eating, touching eyes, mouth or face. Stay at least six feet from individuals with a fever, cough, or upper respiratory infection. Avoid large crowds. Get enough sleep, eat well and manage stress so that you are a poor host for any virus that wants to invade your body.
It is clear that you understand that if you become infected with COVID-19, you pose a risk to your elderly father. You’re wise to plan now and prepare for what could happen, as you will not be able to carry on as normal with an illness. You don’t want to reach panic mode, trying to figure all of this out after the fact. Explain to your father why you’re preparing and how you plan to protect him. He’ll be more receptive to your efforts if he understands your reasoning.
I wish you good health and applaud your thoughtfulness.
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