Tips and resources to help you throughout your caregiving journey

Caregivers, find out the risks of visiting during COVID

Caregiving can be tiring, and sometimes exhausting, even at the best of times. With this pandemic, there is an added layer of mental exhaustion that comes from pandemic-related decisions to be made. This blog offers information and education about online decision aids, and how they can help you determine the risks of visiting someone during COVID. While the vaccine development offers much hope, there is still winter and holiday season upon us. We can use all the help we can get!

To visit or not to visit?

One of the more difficult decisions for caregivers is about visiting.  Is it safe to visit? Am I putting the person I am caring for at risk? What about the impact of them being socially isolated? What about the grandkids? Is it safe for them to visit? If I go ahead with visits, should I keep my own bubble small? How can I be sure that my friends and other family members are taking necessary precautions?

The summer was easier because visiting could more easily take place outdoors, which reduces the risk of transmission. Now that we are into winter weather, and holiday season, it gets complicated (again!) And depending on the COVID numbers, today’s decision may be different than the one you make tomorrow. Another reason why it is all so exhausting.

Online decision aids can help. While not quite the cavalry (with the vaccine in tow, for example), these tools that can help with the decision to visit with family (or friends) during COVID-19, and other decisions related to assisted living and nursing homes.

Online decision aids

What exactly is a decision aid? Decision aids are designed to help people make choices and difficult decisions. They clarify the choice to make and provide information on the options and risks. Decision aids are based on the best available scientific evidence and input from leading experts. It’s like letting the experts do the leg work for us by compiling the best research and evidence. At the same time, these aids take into account our personal values which of course informs all of our decision-making.

The National Institute on Aging has released an online decision aid for  individuals, families and friends to understand and assess the risks associated with visiting others during this COVID-19 pandemic. Based on your responses, your proposed visit is given an estimated risk score of low, medium or high.

How safe will visiting others be during the Covid-19 pandemic?

The decision to visit with family or friends during #COVID-19 is difficult. Being informed of our risk around visiting with others can make that decision easier. The @RyersonNIA #myCOVID19VisitRisk Decision Aid has been designed to help you assess your level of risk from #COVID-19. Assess your risk today at www.covidvisitrisk.com

I used the above online decision aid to help with a decision about visiting my family at Christmas time. It took me all of 10 minutes, and I forwarded it to all my family members.  What I especially loved is the general public health information provided, so that I can better understand the risks associated with visiting others during the pandemic. While I don’t have any Covid-19 deniers or minimizers in my family, I can see the potential value of sharing these scientifically informed results with naysayers.

Other decision aids: retirement homes and long-term care homes

The Ottawa Hospital has developed a couple of other relevant pandemic-related decision aids. They focus on retirement/assisted living and long-term care homes/nursing homes. Many caregivers have considered moving their family member out of these facilities since this pandemic began.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, should I or my family member go to live with family or stay in the long-term care or nursing home?

COVID-19 poses significant health risks for seniors and those with compromised immune systems. For those living in long term care homes and nursing homes, the decision to move back home with friends and family can be difficult to make. It’s important to ensure that you will have proper care if you decide to move out. Use this decision aid to help you consider your options.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, should I go to live with family/friend or stay in my retirement/assisted living home?

COVID-19 poses significant health risks for seniors and those with compromised immune systems. For those living in assisted living and retirement homes, the decision to move back home with friends and family can be difficult to make. Use this decision aid to help you consider your options.

Decision aids for pandemic-related decisions can bring clarity. They can also help us feel less overwhelmed when faced with these difficult decisions that have no clear right or wrong answer.

How are you making decisions about spending time with family during the holiday season? We would love to hear from you.

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