Practical ideas and suggestions that have worked for Mom and me.
Wow, just wow. This is not where anyone thought we would be just a few weeks ago. Our world has changed drastically and it has added an additional level of complexity and need for problem solving when caregiving is already beyond stressful. Let’s address a couple of them.
How to stay sane.
Try to limit your consumption of the news.
We live in New Jersey and the news coming out of New York and my home state is devastating. I can’t listen to every news broadcast or briefing being held throughout the day. It makes me feel hopeless and paralyzed, and that is not an option.
Mom listens to her music station or listens to her books and keeps in touch with family and friends over the phone. She has learned that listening to news during the day is too stressful. She limits it to the 11:00 o’clock news waiting patiently for the weather. If she wants to know the time or weather during the day, she asks Alexa.
Find your trusted sources.
I need to keep up on what the Governor of NJ is asking of us as a community. Governor Murphy does a news briefing that is carried by local TV stations at 2:00 pm every day. If I miss it, or have an additional question, I go to the official NJ COVID-19 site. Here I get live updates on what is going on in my state. For me, the advantage is being able to consume as much or as little as I want. It is also where I check out the rumors I’m hearing on social media.
I need to keep up on the research, what is being discovered about this virus and how to keep Mom and myself healthy. My trusted resource is Dr. Anthony Fauci. If he is on TV, I stop and listen. I search YouTube for Dr. Fauci interviews and will view the newest. My new favorite? Trevor Noah’s interview with him.
There are wonderful and heartfelt tributes to the folks putting their lives at risk so we stay healthy. There are funny posts that give you the gift of laughter. Beware though, there is also misinformation about cures, how COVID19 is spread and how it was brought into the U.S.
Find your trusted resources on social media as well. In a world where it feels overwhelming and scary, social media can be a time suck that isn’t helpful at all. Give yourself the same rules you give your child. Limit the time spent and only get online after you have crossed something off your to-do list.
If you are a social media user, you are familiar with how hashtags (#) allow you to follow a topic. I follow #careingtips on Twitter, which was started by Denise Brown. These tips are by caregivers, for caregivers. Here are just a few:
- “Re-inventory your first-aid supplies and fill in gaps. We added more wound seals, steri-stips and large bandages.” Tip by @sustainableCG
- “I have bleach around as a cleaner of last resort. I have dilution charts printed out for sterilization of dishes, counters and clothes.” @ChrisLicodo
- “I have gin and chocolate for my parents. It’s all they said they wanted if they got sick.” Tips by @caregiving
- “Isopropyl alcohol and aloe lotion for making hand sanitizer since it has vanished from this town.” Tip by @D2_ISON
There are some wonderful videos and posts of people connecting while social distancing. “What a Wonderful World” is one of my favorite songs. Here the Aussie Pops sing it together over the phone.
How to stay safe.
We all know the rules of staying 6 feet apart when on line at the grocery store, pharmacy or other essential businesses, but this can be hard to do. Many businesses are available for drive up window service only. If you can, stay in your car and use this service at your bank, the pharmacy and grocery store.
If you must go into a business, then let go of your mom’s voice telling you “It’s polite to hold the door open for someone.” In today’s world, it’s polite to say, “Thank you, I’ll let you go ahead of me and I’ll get the door on my own.”
Like everyone else, we think the best idea is to order groceries and other essentials so we don’t have to leave the house. The competition for time slots, along with product being out of stock, is enough to make you crazy.
Here are some tips: Groceries
Create online accounts with multiple grocery stores. Then create your grocery list at each one. I know, I know they tell you to check for times before you create the list, but you DON’T have to or check out right at that moment. In fact, if you start the list, you can add to it over time. Most online stores release new times some time in the morning. If your order is ready to go, log on early and try to snag a time, then check out. With the same list at each store, the hope is that one of them will be able to fulfill your order. Some stores have time slots more than a week out, others only for a day or two. Play around with timing and you might be able to find a groove.
I would suggest thinking long term as well. There will be items out of stock at any given time. Don’t wait until you are out of them to include them on your grocery list. One thing to know: when the store shoppers go through the aisles, the chicken you ordered may not be on the shelf. Since the store pickers don’t go back a second time, when they let you know the order is ready and what was out of stock, you might consider double checking that aisle again. If it has been restocked, you can add it to your online order when you check out. You still must go into the store, but you are minimizing time spent and people contact.
Paper, cleaning supplies and gloves (medical and non-medical)
I don’t know what it is like where you live, but paper products around here are wiped out of the stores. One friend went to seven stores before she found toilet paper. Most folks are used to going to Amazon for these types of supplies, but I’ve had no luck there either. I want you to think out of the box for purchasing these items online. Here are just a few of the online stores that carry what you need.
- Office products, home improvement stores and janitorial supply companies carry paper towels, tissues, toilet paper and cleaning supplies.
- Medical supply companies carry gloves and cleaning supplies.
- Beauty supply companies carry gloves. These may not be the medical exam quality that you need for some caregiving tasks, but they will certainly work if you must leave the house, bring in the mail, etc. etc.
If what you need is out of stock, consider signing up for their email alerts. A friend and I had just talked about how difficult it was for me to find disinfectant in the stores. He runs a skilled nursing facility and when an email came to him advising that a company had Pine Sol back in stock, he forwarded it to me and I was able to buy some. You can always unsubscribe down the road. You might need to purchase a box of a product or a huge roll of toilet paper normally found in a public bathroom, but believe me, there are folks who would be willing to split the cost with you.
How to stay healthy
I’m going to concentrate on physical health right now. A future blog post will look at keeping mentally healthy during this difficult time.
Wash your hands.
Everyone is saying it, everyone is singing their favorite 20 second song to you but no one has ever demonstrated to me the right way or how easy it is to miss areas. This simple video using paint on gloves illustrates the best way to wash your hands.
Bringing things into the house.
Like many folks, I worry about bringing things into Mom’s house just in case it carries the live virus. In an NIH study recently published, coronavirus can live on plastic and steel for two to three days, on cardboard for up to 24 hours, and on copper for up to four hours The virus is also detectable in aerosols for up to three hours. Those times can also vary under real-world conditions, depending on factors including temperature, humidity, ventilation, and the amount of virus deposited. The CDC recommends routine cleaning of high-touch surfaces, including door handles, high-backed chairs, light switches and remote controls.
What we have decided to do when we bring groceries into the house is to leave what we can out in the garage for three days. They are out of the plastic bags, on metal shelving and we feel comfortable bringing them in and putting them away after their “social isolation.” But many products need refrigeration or need to be used before the three-day quarantine. Here is a great video from Dr. Jeffrey VanWingen, ND from Grand Rapids, Michigan. He takes you through the medical field’s “sterile technique” which he uses on both groceries and take-out food.
One final tip.
If you must cut your bangs, do a little bit, put the scissors down and walk away. Come back and do more later or the next day. Just don’t do it all at once, in that way lays disaster. Believe me I know.
I hope what Mom and I have learned over the last couple of weeks is helpful. If you have any tips or tricks, please share them in the comments.
Disclaimer: The material in this blog is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace, nor does it replace, consulting with a physician, lawyer, accountant, financial planner or other qualified professional.