Healthcare for a Loved One with Coronavirus Photo: Cloudinary

COVID-19: What’s the best way to care for a loved one with virus?

*When a loved one gets sick, our gut response kicks in like second nature: eschew stigmatisation, others, says report

*Provide as much care and comfort as possible

Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect

The Coronavirus crisis is still here; but how do you help a friend, relation or other loved one with Coronavirus?

This is one of the frequently asked questions (FAQs) about life during this novel Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) predicament.

The best laid plans of Coronavirus caregivers can go kaflooey, says NPR.

For instance, when certain Marie Loveheim was recovering from COVID-19, alone in her apartment in Washington, D.C., United States, she did not have a thermometer.

So, her son bought her one, and it registered a fever of 107, according to the report.

“Was I dead?” She wondered.

However, thermometer number two came from her daughter, who ordered it as part of a grocery delivery from a supermarket.

But what came was a meat thermometer. Lovenheim’s sister suggested she check to see if she measured “medium-rare”.

When a loved one gets sick, our gut response kicks in like second nature: Provide as much care and comfort as possible. Send a thermometer, a soup, you pick: It feels like a no-brainer.

Nonetheless, how do you care for a loved one struck by a fast-spreading virus that means it’s high risk to have face-to-face contact with a patient lest you get sick yourself?

In conversations with both medical professionals and COVID-19 recoverees about the trial and error of caregiving: What works, what does not, and what might provide hope and humour even at the unlikeliest of moments, report stated.

As regards practical considerations, Dr. Paul Sax, Clinical Director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, says if a loved one has COVID-19, the first step is home isolation.

If possible, he states, the infected family member should remain quarantined in a separate room where they will eat and sleep, and they should use a separate bathroom.

Further still, it is all right to go into the infected party’s room to drop off food, Sax advises.

Nevertheless, both the patient and the caregiver should wear nose masks, and if possible, inexpensive plastic face shields or lab goggles to cover their eyes in addition to nostrils and mouths — eyes are a potential entry point for the virus, states he.

But for milder Coronavirus cases, at-home treatment largely addresses the symptoms.

“Given that we don’t have any verified therapy that we can give people early on in the course, our main management is focused on symptomatic relief for coughs, fevers, muscle pains and the like,” remarks Harvard Medical School physician Dr. Abraar Karan.

Karan states that “Over-the-counter Tylenol for fevers and pain, or anti-cough medications are both options for people who don’t have significant medical conditions that would prevent them from taking these medications.”

Dr. Sax again, says it is a good idea to go into your loved one’s room three or four times a day, say hi and see how he or she is doing.

It is “completely fine” to prepare food for them; just make sure to wash the dishes and your hands afterward with soapy water.

You should check temperatures twice a day and expect a higher number in the afternoon than early morning.

Yet another helpful tool is said to be a pulse oximeter, which can be used to measure oxygen levels. Look for numbers in the high 90s to 100s when monitoring your loved one, researchers said.

A number in the low 90s is alarming, Sax and Karan say, and if those are the results you are noticing, seek medical attention for your loved one.

But you shouldn’t be falsely reassured by good numbers either, medical experts warn—and there are some noted problems with getting good readings to begin with.

Dr. James Aisenberg, a gastroenterologist and clinical professor of Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, was diagnosed with COVID-19 in March 2020, and has since recovered.

For Dr. Aisenberg, it was important to keep the communication flowing with his physician and keep meticulous notes on his condition and recovery progress.

He relates that “the caregiver should have a physician or a healthcare contact whom they can e-mail because it’s a bumpy and long recovery process.

“It’s very helpful to have someone to reach out to for reassurance and counsel who knows the natural history of the Coronavirus infection, who can say ‘That’s a red flag, come to the hospital’.”

At home, there are some clear things to watch out for when it comes to symptoms: if your loved one has a harder time breathing, if fever is spiking (especially in older people), if there is delirium or signs of dehydration like fatigue, dizziness or overly-yellow urine.

Because the recovery process is slow, taxing and done in isolation, Aisenberg says it was important for him to find nourishing moments of human connection with family between the stretches of alone time.

“You want to be together in a moment where you cannot touch each other; to be close at a moment where you can’t physically be close.

“Because both parties — the patient and the family — need that closeness. So the most important thing for a caregiver is to be “attentive, supportive and present—but observe social distancing (at least 6 feet even with a mask on) and hygiene.”

Support you loved ones during the Coronavirus crisis, and help him or her in getting through whatever comes next.

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