It’s been a long time since seniors have been able to interact freely with friends and family without worrying about the risk of COVID-19. With vaccinations rolling out across the country and restrictions lifting, the possibility of gathering together again feels realistic for the first time in over a year.
It’s easy to assume that if your senior loved one has received the vaccine, they can safely attend all gatherings. But is that really the case?
Can Seniors Safely Attend Gatherings?
It’s natural to be excited about getting together, sharing a meal, giving hugs, and connecting with one another again. We’re all looking forward to the day when those things will be the norm. But for now, it’s wise for seniors to remain cautious. Here’s why.
- The vaccination is 95% effective. That’s wonderful news, and it can give you peace of mind once your senior family members have received both doses. However, there is still a small chance of infection, even with the vaccine. Medical experts advise continued precautions until enough people have been vaccinated that the virus is no longer prevalent in the community.
- The size and type of gathering matters. If you are planning a small gathering and everyone in attendance has been vaccinated, the new CDC guidelines consider that to be a low-risk scenario. However, attending an indoor concert or going to a restaurant may still be risky since you cannot know who has been vaccinated and who has not.
- Fully vaccinated people can still carry the virus. Vaccinated people can still be carriers of the virus, which means they can potentially spread it to their unvaccinated friends and family. In public settings, this risk increases since you will likely interact with more people. According to the CDC, vaccinated people can visit with healthy, unvaccinated people from a single household with relatively low risk. As the number of households increases, however, so does the risk of transmission.
How Can You Plan a Safe Gathering With Seniors?
What does all this mean for visiting your elderly family members? First, it means that you can finally start considering a visit with your mom or dad, provided they have received a vaccination. That’s wonderful news, and as more people receive their vaccines, the relative risk factors will continue to subside.
Second, however, it means that it’s still important to take precautions. The virus is still active in our communities and high-risk people, including seniors, can still get sick. Current guidelines in Ohio recommend following the CDC’s guidance for fully vaccinated people. Guidelines do vary by state, however, so if you live elsewhere you should check your state’s recommendations. Here are some things to consider as you think about planning a visit:
- Keep Gatherings Small - For now, it’s best to limit visits with seniors to one household at a time. If everyone present has received a vaccine, you could consider including more family members at once, but it’s still wise to avoid large in-person gatherings for now.
- Limit Gatherings in Public Places - According to the CDC, the risk of going to a restaurant or other public place is much lower once your senior loved one has received a vaccine. Still, they recommend continuing to follow social distancing and mask protocols since the risk increases with the number of unvaccinated people present. For seniors, that may mean continuing to avoid public places for the time being, especially indoors or in settings where maintaining social distance is difficult or impossible.
- Consider the Prevalence of COVID-19 in Your Community - Check the current case counts in your area as well as in your elderly family member’s community. If those numbers are rising, consider postponing your visit until you see a more positive trend.
- Consider Exposure as You Travel - If you will be visiting from another state or city, consider how you might be exposed to the virus as you travel. If you are vaccinated, you are at low risk of contracting the virus, but it’s still important to think about the possibility of being a carrier. Airline travel, for example, would be higher risk than driving.
As more people receive the vaccine, we should see fewer new cases of the coronavirus leading to fewer restrictions. That’s why it’s important to keep a close eye on CDC guidelines and the situation in your area before you plan a visit. With any visit, be sure you know what the current recommendations are for your area and weigh all of the risks. When you give that first hug to your mom or dad, you’ll feel peace of mind knowing you have done all you can to keep them safe.
At Cherished Companions, we are still following all safety precautions and guidelines to keep our clients and caregivers healthy. If you have questions about how we can serve your family, we are here to help!
For further questions, to request resources, or to inquire about getting or becoming a caregiver, contact Cherished Companions today on our website or call (440) 484-5390!