Here are some ideas for making a difference even when we can’t go out to visit others who are ill or put the elderly at risk. Where there is a will, there is a way.
We have grouped the suggestions received so far.
From Johns Hopkins: This one we need to do right.
Do it Yourself Face Masks:
I heard of a caregiver who freaked out (understandably) because while on a shopping run the clerk sneezed very close to her face. Even though, we are told that we don’t need one, we believe that as caregivers we need protection. We don’t want to take chances nor take away precious facemasks from the doctors and nurses on the front lines. Handmade masks offer some protection from a sneeze that may be the result of allergies and also allow us to feel like we can do something. See below links to sites that show how to make your own mask. Some require a sewing machine, others can be constructed easily with a handkerchief or paper towels and rubber bands.
FaceTiming is EVERYTHING right now
: A caregiver that could help facilitate that would be priceless...it's something that could be done while still maintaining some level of social distancing, but would do a lot to bring light and connection to someone. We've been doing charades, dance parties, dinners, happy hours, etc. all via FaceTime.
Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, etc.:
I regularly texted and called my sons and friends. As we’ve moved to Shelter in Place, I have found more comfort in seeing the people I’m speaking with. I’ve even taken to having “breakfast with granddaughter.” My son sets his iPad on the kitchen counter (as do I) and Bayley eats her breakfast with Cap’n Grandpa. A sunny lift for both of us.
Socializing and gaming:
I had a regular Tuesday night poker game. Again, my son Dan to the rescue. He asked me how I was staying connected and told me his friends have switched their Monday board game night to online. They use DISCORD which is essentially a chatroom app with video and audio capability. Similar to Slack but better for games and shared activities. You don’t have to join a “poker site” or “bridge site” or any other paid specialized app…you can set up your private chat room with your friends or STC group for whatever you want to do together. (PS: Apparently my poker buddies are a bunch of Alter Kockers (Yiddish for “old farts”). More than half informed me they either didn’t have or didn’t know if they had video or microphone capabilities on their computers.)
We had an amazing doctor who did telemedicine with Peggy...a nurse or caregiver could potentially facilitate FaceTime check-ins with a progressive doctor who was open to communicating in this way.
Food delivery, meal prep, shopping
Some amazing ways that caregivers could help...things could be left on the doorstep
I was challenged by my mother’s demand that NO ONE other than me be allowed into her home. It made the formation of a STC group nearly impossible because she wouldn’t even allow me to tell her friends why they couldn’t come in. Grrr.
Someone suggested that I should have started a “doorstep” STC group. I could have organized people to do my outside errands and then leave things for me or her on our doorstep. (As in our 'Smaller Inner Team / Larger Outer Team STC group' idea we mentioned in our last Urgent Suggestion email to you.)
We did have someone cook a few meals and soups to keep in the freezer and had frozen plenty of other stuff, including milk. Meals get to be creative!
For Urban Dwellers:
living in a co-op building with a Board, we are easily setting up protocols for owners to volunteer to shop for older individuals who don't feel comfortable or cannot venture outside.
Bicycle Pharma Delivery Service:
My younger son, Dan, stopped using public transportation about two weeks ago and has been bicycling everywhere in NYC. He put the word out to his network of friends and acquaintances that if they were unable or unwilling to venture outside, he would be glad to make pharmacy and other “urgent” runs for them and leave the order on their doorstep. So, without my having told him about his grandmother, he seems to have figured out the mensch strategy!
Strategies for large families
We are caretaking 3 adult children and 3 grandchildren (3,4 and 5) and 3 dogs here, and ourselves.
We are being as strict as possible about keeping distance with others hoping that in a few days we will have an assured clean pod here.
My husband is only allowed to collect the mail and get a newspaper if he wears gloves. Any amazon packages are left on the doorstep for 24 hours to air out! We have disposable gloves but no masks.
The kids have home school every day except weekends…its more for them to have a structured day. We started on day one with A words and activities and we are moving through the Alphabet. A family circle at the beginning of the day when we sing along with a guitar and we take everyone’s temperature. Everyday has long hiking time on the hills and trails. We end school with a peak and pit of my day and closing songs!
Create a JOY list:
This would be the perfect time for a caregiver to work with the care recipient to create a "joy list"...we did this with Peggy...we asked her what her favorite things and activities were, bucket list items, things she missed, movies she loved or had never seen, etc. then we brainstormed as a group to see how we could make these things happen for her in some way...of course, we couldn't do all of them, but our group had fun with this and got VERY creative...it gave the group something to focus on and helped us to identify simple pleasures and joys and ways they could help (like making sure that she got to listen to her favorite NPR game show every morning).
Please feel free to share these ideas with others and share yours with us as well.