Guide to Handling the Coronavirus for Loved Ones

People throughout the United States are considering the best way of handling the coronavirus for loved ones. The global spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) is now a dangerous pandemic. The U.S. federal government recently said that the coronavirus could last 18 months or longer. The number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. has already surpassed 10,000 cases

Some epidemiologists have stated that the pandemic could include multiple waves of the illness. With a lack of available coronavirus tests and massive government and private sector shutdowns, people all over the country are rightly concerned about the coronavirus. 

The Elderly Are Particularly At Risk When it Comes to Coronavirus

People over the age of 60 have a higher fatality rate than younger people who contract the coronavirus. Mortality increases with age. Additionally, older people with underlying health conditions like diabetes, lung disease, and heart disease, or other underlying health conditions are about twice as likely to experience serious adverse health outcomes. 

A recent study and the most extensive study on COVID-19 published as of yet showed that the fatality rate was close to 15 percent for people over the age of 80. The fatality rate for patients under the age of 80 is 2.3 percent. 

Help Your Family Members Stock Up on Medical Supplies

Elderly individuals who have underlying health conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure should make sure that they have adequate medication and supplies on hand. Patients may be able to ask their doctors for a 90 day supply of drugs. As the pandemic rages on, it could become more challenging to procure medication. Having a three-month supply can be incredibly helpful and give your family members peace of mind. 

Elderly Family Members in Nursing Homes Are at Risk

At the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., coronavirus quickly spread through a nursing home in Kirkland, Washington. The Kirkland nursing home became overrun by COVID-10. So far, 81 nursing home residents, 24 staff members, and 14 visitors became infected. Sadly, 35 of the nursing home residents have died. 

At least four long-term care facilities in the Chicago area have reported coronavirus cases. One nursing home recently reported 46 cases inside the facility. Illinois public health officials are still testing other residents and staff members who may have become infected. On a national level, nursing homes have gone into lockdown. Many are forbidding visitors from entering the facilities. 

Protecting Your Loved One Who Lives in a Nursing Home

One of the most important things you can to help your loved one in a nursing home is not to visit them. Most nursing homes now are restricting visitation except at some end of life situations. You may want to call and confirm that the nursing home at which your loved one is living is following the Centers for Disease Control guidelines. Nursing homes have a legal duty to take extra precautions during the coronavirus pandemic.

Protecting Family Members Who Aren’t in Long-Term Care Facilities

Many elderly loved ones live with family members on their own. They are still at a higher risk of suffering should they contract the virus. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that we all engage in the following steps to help prevent the spread of coronavirus to our family members:

  • Avoid being in close contact with people who are sick
  • Avoid touching your nose, mouth, or eyes
  • Stay home as much as possible
  • Cover your sneezes and coughs with a tissue and immediately throw the tissue away in a lined trash container
  • Disinfect and clean areas that are frequently touched using disinfecting spray and wipes
  • Health officials continue to say that healthy people don’t benefit from wearing masks

What to Do If Your Loved One Shows Symptoms of Coronavirus

If you or your loved one suspect that you might have the coronavirus, you should seek medical care immediately. Importantly, you should not walk into a healthcare facility or emergency room without calling ahead if you suspect that your loved one has coronavirus. Be sure to call ahead and speak to the medical care provider first so they can take the steps necessary to protect other people in their facility. 

Some healthcare providers are allowing online or virtual visits. Ask your loved one’s health care provider if you can help your loved one schedule a virtual visit. Doing so will protect your loved one from being exposed to coronavirus at a medical facility. Of course, if you have a medical emergency, or your loved one is experiencing shortness of breath, call 911. When you make the 911 call, tell the operator that you suspect that your loved one has the coronavirus. If you have a face mask, put it on before the emergency medical service arrives. 

Review Estate Planning Documents

With confirmed cases of the coronavirus on the rise, it is wise to prepare yourself by engaging in estate planning. Review your last will and testament to ensure that it meets the legal requirements for a valid will in Massachusetts. If you have a revocable living trust, you may wish to update your beneficiaries. Also, ensure that you have funded your revocable living trust with assets. If you haven’t, the beneficiaries may have to go through Massachusetts probate court, which defeats one of the benefits of having a living trust.

Create an Estate Plan to Protect Your Family During the Coronavirus Outbreak 

Many Americans do not have a last will and testament or any estate planning documents prepared. We recommend that Americans take the time to secure the following legal documents, especially as we face the coronavirus epidemic:

  • Last Will and Testament – governs the distribution of your property after you pass
  • Durable Power of Attorney – appoint an agent to manage your financial matters
  • Health Care Proxy – designate a proxy for medical decisions upon incapacitation
  • Advanced Directive – a non-binding document that states your wishes upon incapacitation

In addition to adding these powerful legal documents to your estate plan, we also recommend creating a plan should you or a close loved one contract the coronavirus. This plan can lay out how your loved ones can pay your bills, who will look over your property, and how to take care of your pets. 

Let a Southeastern Massachusetts Estate Planning Attorney Help You Prepare

Coronavirus is already having a significant impact on people’s health and the economy. As with any severe crisis, it’s always wise to review your estate plan and your plan for coping with the coronavirus. Let the experienced estate planning attorneys at Surprenant & Beneski, P.C. help you make a plan. Call us today to schedule a consultation.