At this point in the global COVID-19 pandemic, many people have either lost someone to the virus or know somebody who has. While reading about the rising coronavirus death toll in the news is disturbing, hearing about the death of someone you know, directly or indirectly, hits far closer to home.
Those who have lost loved ones to COVID often struggle to balance their feelings of grief and sadness with anger over something that was preventable. This combination of emotions makes coping with a coronavirus loss extremely difficult, particularly when the virus keeps us apart from our family and friends during the grieving process.
But social distancing doesn’t mean complete isolation. There are still ways you can get support as you come to terms with a COVID-19 loss.
Join a Virtual Support Group
All across the country, virtual support groups are popping up on Facebook to provide a safe place for people to grieve the loss of a loved one to coronavirus. These groups offer support in the form of Zoom meetings, help forums, and private messages.
Do a Facebook search of support groups in your area to connect with people who understand what you’re going through. If there isn’t a local group yet, consider starting one yourself. Helping others can be a great way to make yourself feel better.
Call a Coronavirus Hotline
Many organizations have set up call centers offering live support to those struggling with the pandemic, whether it be frontline workers or people who have recently lost someone. The Red Cross, for example, has a variety of virtual and telephone resources to support those experiencing a COVID-19 loss. The CDC has also compiled a list of grief counseling resources, including phone numbers to call.
Connect with Family and Friends via Phone or Video Chat
Many psychologists have criticized the term “social distancing” for being inaccurate in a time when we can connect with loved ones virtually; they suggest using the term “physical distancing” instead. For while we may have to remain apart in physical form, we can still have much of the same mental and spiritual connection using modern technology.
Some families have found great comfort in hosting a virtual memorial on a videoconferencing platform like Zoom or Skype. The whole family gets together and shares memories of the loved one who has passed, much like at a funeral. This can be a source of catharsis and consolation that helps everyone come to terms with a death in the family together.
If that feels like too much emotionally, simply calling a close friend on the telephone helps too.
Seek Comfort in Your Faith
Many of us turn to a higher power in times of loss to guide us through the grieving process and remind us of a larger plan. Religion and spirituality are a great source of solace for members of any faith or philosophy. You might seek solace in the form of prayer, meditation, or study of a religious text.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
We’re now roughly six months into the global COVID-19 pandemic. Most of us never expected that it would reach this point, nor that we could make it this far without serious damage to our mental health—and yet, here we are.
For some of us, it feels positively normal by now. Many have grown accustomed to wearing masks everywhere, staying six feet apart, and being unable to see friends and loved ones. Others are struggling to adjust to this new COVID normal. It can feel lonely, hollow, and downright boring. For the elderly and other vulnerable populations, this may be a time of difficult isolation.
Whether you’ve become numb to the situation or are struggling to cope, one thing is certain: We could all use a little bit of extra light in our lives right now. We would all be better off if we knew how to not only survive, but thrive throughout this international health crisis. And with experts warning that it will likely be a long time before we return to a pre-COVID normal, we might as well make peace with this new reality.
Start from Within
Many psychological studies have determined that only 10 percent of our happiness stems from external events, with the remaining 90 percent being a mix of genetics and intentional activities (meaning what you do to stay happy, whether that’s changing the way you process the world or engaging in activities that uplift you). These statistics are reassuring during a time when we have so little control over the external events happening around us. They remind us that while our happiness is not 100 percent within our control, we can absolutely affect it through our ways of thinking and living.
Many people are finding comfort in their spiritual and religious practice during the pandemic. With more free time to pray, meditate, read, and reflect, it’s a great time to reinvigorate your faith. The Bible speaks at length about seeking God’s love in times of hardship. For example, James 1:2-3 tells us, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” Psalm 16:11 teaches us that we can find all the happiness we need in God: “You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
We’re all learning a lot right now. We’re learning what it feels like to be alone with ourselves, what is truly important to us, and how much we miss the people in our lives when we can’t spend time with them. Now is the time to reevaluate our priorities and renew our gratitude for others.
In pre-COVID times, many of us were so busy balancing work, school, and responsibilities that we lost sight of the important things in life—things like family, friendship, love, and quality time. Now that we can’t meet an old friend for drinks or invite the parents over for Sunday dinner, we realize just how much those small things really mean to us.
This doesn’t have to be a tragedy. In fact, it is a valuable lesson. We’ve had the chance to get back in touch with the things we value most of all, and we will not soon take them for granted. Once it’s safe to return to “normal” life, we will see the small things that we so long took for granted in a whole new light.
Focus on What You Can Control
We can do our part to end this pandemic by wearing masks and practicing social distancing, as well as encouraging others to do the same, but we ultimately can’t control what happens with COVID-19. We have no say in whether a potential vaccine proves effective or when that may happen. These are all factors outside of our control, which means worrying about them is fruitless.
But there are also a lot of things we can control. We can be safe and responsible to ease our fears of catching the disease; we can visit with loved ones virtually; we can reconnect with nature by spending more time outdoors. When you focus on these things rather than what is out of your control, you regain a sense of autonomy and control over your own destiny. It’s hard to feel happy and fulfilled with life right now, but it’s far from impossible. With the right mindset and support from others (including a professional if you need one), you can thrive in times of uncertainty.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has awarded HealthKeeperz of Scotland County with 4.5 stars in home health care! This score reflects an exceptionally high level of quality in patient care, as the average rating among home health agencies is three stars.
“Our team of home health professionals have worked extremely hard to provide their patients with the highest quality care,” said Tim Brooks, president of HealthKeeperz. “Achieving a 4.5-star rating from CMS is a huge validation of all the work they’ve put in. Our home health team is doing crucial work during the COVID-19 pandemic, and I’m thrilled to see them get the recognition they deserve.”
CMS’s Quality of Patient Care Ratings are calculated by combining seven criteria: timely initiation of care, improvement in management of oral medications, improvement in ambulation, improvement in bed transferring, improvement in bathing, improvement in dyspnea (shortness of breath), and acute care hospitalization during the first 60 days of home health.
CMS is responsible for ensuring that many of our nation’s most vulnerable populations receive the medical care they need—a noble cause at any point in time, but especially now, as we face unprecedented challenges from the global coronavirus pandemic. The agency sets high standards of care and its ratings matter a great deal to any home health provider. Thus, we’re extremely grateful to have passed the test with flying colors. It’s a culmination of hard work from many team members, both those on-the-ground serving patients and those behind-the-scenes doing administrative work.
“The thing about HealthKeeperz is, we function as a family,” said Mr. Brooks. “That means that this achievement was not done by one single person, or even by one team. It’s something we did together as a company by motivating, supporting, and inspiring each other on a daily basis.”
We recognize that our team members are confronting new challenges and fears brought about by COVID-19. It’s truly inspirational to see how our healthcare heroes have faced these challenges head-on, refusing to waiver in their commitment to patients. That patient-centric focus surely played a huge part in this 4.5-star achievement.
To learn more about our home health care services in Scotland County and beyond, please visit http://www.healthkeeperz.com/services. For more information on CMS’s home health ratings system, visit https://rb.gy/woykmh.
In a time when vulnerable populations are being encouraged to stay at home as much as possible to prevent COVID-19 exposure, the home health industry is proving to be a safer alternative to traditional methods of care. Hospitals are crowded, doctors are overworked, and tens of millions of surgeries have been postponed as a result of the pandemic. Meanwhile, more than 40 percent of U.S. coronavirus deaths are linked to nursing homes—exposing the inherent risks of having members of vulnerable populations living together in close quarters.
Home health care has long been a viable alternative to nursing home placement and recurring doctor’s visits. But the pandemic is reinforcing its many benefits, particularly in times of crisis. Home health services are in increasingly high demand amid the COVID-19 outbreak, and the conversation around expanding the Medicare home health benefit is growing louder. So, what exactly are the benefits that are driving more patients and policymakers toward home health care?
For one, there is the reduced risk of contracting contagious diseases from others. While this risk is especially high in a global pandemic, it was also present before COVID-19, and will continue to be present after. There are existing diseases that are known to spread quickly in nursing homes, most commonly respiratory infections (often caused by influenza viruses) and gastrointestinal infections (often caused by noroviruses). Then there is the potential for future viral outbreaks; public health officials say that another pandemic is “a probability, not a possibility.” Does that mean we should live in fear? Absolutely not. But it’s a good reminder to weigh the risks before placing a family member or loved one into an assisted living facility.
Secondly, it’s easier and safer to visit our loved ones in a home health care setting rather than in a nursing home setting. With many facilities under strict lockdown orders, seniors have been forced to give up regular visits from family and friends in order to prevent a deadly coronavirus outbreak. In contrast, seniors who receive home health care services can still visit with their loved ones as long as necessary precautions are taken, like maintaining a safe distance from one another and wearing masks at all times.
Lastly, we can’t neglect the mental health benefits that home health care offers. Who wouldn’t prefer the comfort of one’s own home to the often cold and sterile environment of a hospital or assisted living facility? Patients who receive home health care have a higher quality of life, more freedom, stronger connection to family members, and often faster recovery times. In addition, home health care is usually less expensive than hospital care or a skilled nursing facility, but just as effective and more convenient.
If you’re looking for a safer (and happier!) alternative to traditional methods of care, we hope you’ll explore the possibility of home health. Give us a call at 800-309-3784 to begin the conversation.