Mrs. Jones and her family made the decision to go home with nursing care and therapies. Many consumers make the decision to receive their Medicare services in their own home. It is important to do the research on home care agencies just like you would a nursing home in order to select a home health company that can meet the needs of the older adult accessing their services.
Mrs. Jones continues to struggle to become independent with her activities of daily living and requires help for toileting and showers. Mrs. Jones feels she is becoming a burden to her family and wonders if she will ever get back to her former self. To complicate things, Mrs. Jones also recognizes that on top of the conditions that have caused her recent hospitalization and need for care, she is also at high risk for COVID-19 and she becomes increasingly anxious. Her anxiety around COVID-19 if unmanaged has the potential to negatively impact her recovery at home.
Mrs. Jones is still weak from hospitalization and is fearful of being alone, so her daughter stays with her and supports her. With COVID-19 things have changed and Mrs. Jones is not allowed to leave the home where her daughter is working remotely, and the visiting nurses are required to take their own vitals and temperature before engaging in any sort of caregiving. The nurses and therapists are wearing masks for Mrs. Jones’ safety, which she appreciates. However, those same masks that are used to protect her also frustrate her, she has a hard time understanding her caregivers due to pre-existing hearing difficulty.
Mrs. Jones has also engaged in her first telemedicine call to address some health concerns and for follow-up appointments. The telemedicine experience was different than any healthcare experience she has had in her life, and she was glad her daughter was there to help her with the necessary technology to connect to her provider.
The COVID-19 virus has shut everything down, and Mrs. Jones’ other children are unable to come and visit her or assist with her care and relieve their sibling for fear of spreading the infection. Grocery stores are out of toilet paper and many food items that Mrs. Jones normally purchases. Mrs. Jones’ daughter reaches out to some friends that have offered to visit other stores to find the usual items. Eventually, with teamwork, Mrs. Jones is able to obtain her usual food items and needed supplies, which are delivered to her safely.
Mrs. Jones is an example of how family and community must come together to recognize the needs of the vulnerable and that sometimes it will take multiple persons to meet one need. It is also an example of how complicated the lives of older adults and those who care for them have become. The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates the unique needs of our communities and our older adults in a way that hasn’t been seen before.
Christopher Stieben is Director of the ABLE Long-Term-Care-Ombudsman Program, which can be reached at 419-259-2891 (http://ombudsman.ablelaw.org).