With vaccines being rolled out across the country and fewer new cases of COVID-19, we’re all feeling excited about the possibility of spending more time with our senior loved ones. We’ve missed the hugs, the family dinners, and the quality interactions, and we can’t wait for things to get back to normal.
But is it safe? Can we start scheduling those longed-for visits, or should we tap the brakes for a little while longer?
In Ohio, case counts have dropped steadily, and we are now seeing numbers similar to those before the surge at the end of last year. Vaccine rollouts have also been progressing steadily, with nearly 25% of Ohio residents having received at least the first dose.
It’s exciting to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel in terms of COVID-19 restrictions for gatherings, mask mandates, and business openings. Based on these trends, you may be wondering when and how you’ll be able to start living life normally again, especially with regard to interactions with senior loved ones.
In a recent press conference, the President was cautiously optimistic that we will see significant progress this year. But there’s still a long way to go. Safety should still be our number one priority, and we should still take precautions as we gradually begin moving toward a new normal over the next few months.
When Can We Interact With Senior Loved Ones Normally Again?
Restrictions on interacting with elderly family members have placed incredible strain on seniors and their families. It’s understandable that everyone wants to get back to in-person visits, hugs, and outings where possible.
The most important question to ask as you think through these interactions is: How can you best keep your elderly loved ones safe?
While the current situation in Ohio is encouraging, COVID-19 is still a high risk for seniors and it can still carry devastating outcomes. With that in mind, here are some guidelines to help you determine how to safely interact with elderly loved ones:
- If Your Senior Loved One Has Had the Vaccine - It may be tempting to plan a big family gathering as soon as your mom or dad has received their first dose of the vaccine. Experts caution that it’s wise to wait, however. Because the first dose does not provide full immunity, save the face-to-face interactions for when your loved one has received both doses. For the highest level of immunity, healthcare providers recommend waiting two weeks after the second dose of the vaccine before relaxing safety measures.
- If You Have Had the Vaccine - If you and other family members have received the vaccine as well as your senior loved one, you can look forward to getting together in person very soon! There is far less risk for your mom or dad if everyone they interact with is vaccinated. Still, it is important to consider their comfort levels and individual circumstances. You should also make sure their doctor is comfortable with these kinds of interactions.
- If You Have Not Had the Vaccine - The good news is that vaccines will soon be available to anyone who wants one. Until you are fully vaccinated, however, you will still need to take precautions around elderly family members. Studies show that the vaccine is about 95% effective in protecting from COVID-19. That means there is still a small risk of contracting the illness, even after vaccination. To keep your senior loved one safe, you should still wear a mask and practice social distancing around them if you have not been vaccinated.
What Safety Precautions Are Still Important for Seniors?
Because the majority of the population still has not received the coronavirus vaccine, it’s important that seniors continue taking safety precautions. The virus is still active in the community, and it is still possible to get sick. Whether or not you and your family have been vaccinated, it’s wise for seniors to continue safety precautions including:
- Wearing a mask in public places or gatherings
- Remaining six feet apart
- Washing hands frequently
- Staying home as much as possible
- Encouraging family members to get the vaccine when it is available to them
This has been a tough time for seniors. Lack of in-person visits with loved ones have increased feelings of isolation and loneliness, which can impact both physical and mental wellbeing. As more people get vaccinated, however, it will be safer for seniors to begin spending time with loved ones again.
And that’s the best news we’ve heard in a very long time.
At Cherished Companions, we are still practicing extensive safety precautions to keep you and your family members as safe as possible. Our caregivers are trained to provide quality care and companionship for your seniors while also protecting their health.