5 Tips on Caring for Senior Patients with Post-COVID Symptoms
According to the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) in Chicago, nearly one-fifth of Americans, aged 18 and older, have been caregivers for an aging friend or family member during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The road to recovery for elderly patients who have experienced COVID can be especially challenging. When an aging loved one is recovering from COVID, knowing what to watch out for can help you feel more comfortable and confident in providing the best post-COVID care possible.
If you’re among the millions of Americans caring for a senior with post-COVID symptoms, we’re here to help. In this post, we’ll discuss commonly reported COVID symptoms, dangerous red flags, vital tips for self-care, and important insights to aid in the smooth recovery of your loved one.
Seniors Face Increased Risks of COVID
Harvard Health Publishing reports that the risk of serious illness in COVID patients increases with age. And, the risk of complications from COVID is substantially higher for patients with underlying medical conditions, which includes many of those within the elderly population.
Even in young, otherwise healthy patients, COVID symptoms can continue for up to several weeks, or even several months after one receives a diagnosis. For aging patients, however, lengthy COVID bouts tend to be much more common.
Due to their age and any additional factors that might contribute to less-than-perfect health, it’s important for caregivers to be aware of the physical symptoms associated with COVID-19. Symptoms include a wide range of possibilities, and they can vary from patient to patient.
Some of COVID’s most common physical symptoms, as listed by the Centers for Disease Control, include:
- Loss of taste or smell
- Fever or chills
- Body aches
- Difficulty breathing
- Nausea or diarrhea
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
While not all symptoms indicate a serious illness, some symptoms should be considered as automatic red flags, such as when a patient runs a very high fever, has trouble breathing, or becomes dehydrated, either from refusing to eat or drink or because they cannot keep food or liquids down.
When in Doubt, Call a Doctor
Because COVID can rapidly worsen in older patients, it’s crucial that caregivers keep a close eye out for signs that their loved one’s condition may be declining. If you notice that an aging patient is experiencing severe symptoms, or that their health is not improving over time, you should reach out to their physician immediately.
If the severity of their symptoms begins to cause major concern to either you or the patient, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. A trip to the local emergency room, in this case, could save your loved one’s life.
Mental Health Symptoms
Physical symptoms are not the only symptoms that can negatively affect patients with COVID-19. Caregivers should also be aware of mental health symptoms in older patients. And, if mental health symptoms in a patient become troubling at any stage, it’s important that you notify their doctor right away.
Past research performed by the National Institutes of Health (NCBI) reveals that COVID patients aged 40 years old and younger experience the worst mental health symptoms, but COVID can affect a patient’s mental health at any age.
Loneliness was shown to exacerbate mental health symptoms. Many of the elderly felt lonelier than ever throughout COVID. This is true whether they were quarantining, or whether they had contracted the virus. In fact, many older people are still spending greater amounts of time alone due to the ongoing pandemic.
There’s a good chance that your loved one has been fighting loneliness, in addition to their fight against COVID. Caretakers of seniors should watch for signs of anxiety and depression. If you notice these or other unusual behaviors or emotions taking place, talk to the doctor.
Keep Yourself Healthy
Last, but certainly not least, is the task of self-care. Be sure to take precautions to avoid contracting COVID. It’s important that you don’t neglect your own health when you are taking care of someone else.
Remember, good health strengthens the immune system. And, if you become sick, you won’t be able to care for your loved one or yourself.
Continue to practice social distancing and follow other recommendations to stay COVID-free even when you are caring for a COVID patient.
We are continuing to learn more about COVID every day. As new information becomes available, it’s more important than ever to stay informed.
Staying informed helps everyone to stay healthy. Talk to a doctor to get the facts about COVID.
Talk to a Doctor About Post-Covid Symptoms
Find out the answers to your questions about post-COVID symptoms including post-COVID infections, and get the latest news and updates about COVID from doctors that you can trust.
Contact the physicians at your local Corpus Christi emergency room to find out the facts about COVID-19 today.
“Caregivers in America During COVID-19,” National Opinion Research Center, https://www.norc.org/PDFs/Maintaining Physical and Mental Well/OACCaregiverInfographic.pdf
“If you are at higher risk,” Harvard Health Publishing, https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/if-you-are-at-higher-risk
“Symptoms of COVID-19,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html
“Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on mental health in the general population: A systematic review,” National Institutes of Health, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7413844/