Grandparents tasked with babysitting during COVID-19 are encouraged to take special precautions to protect themselves against the virus, advises Michael Tehrani, M.D., board-certified internal medicine and geriatric specialist for Brand New Day. In addition to social distancing, frequent hand washing and wearing a mask, grandparents are encouraged to limit their babysitting duties to their own grandchildren and not to the grandchildren of others. In addition, extra precautions should be taken when changing diapers including wearing gloves and properly discarding the disposable variety since the CDC has detected COVID-19 in feces. He also recommends that elderly babysitters thoroughly and regularly sanitize kitchen and bathroom surfaces; computers, tablets, cellphones and video game components; toys; and any other items that children routinely touch.
Tehrani cites a Harvard Medical School article that says recent studies raise concerns that children could be capable of spreading the infection — even without showing any symptoms.
“Earlier in the pandemic, it was thought that children were very low risk of either getting the virus or spreading it,” he explains. “Now we know that while most children who become infected with COVID-19 may not show any symptoms, they still can unwittingly transmit the virus. This could be particularly troublesome should their grandparents become infected since they are more likely to suffer severe symptoms and even death.”
A Cornell University study conducted before the outbreak found that 50% of young children regularly spend time with their grandparents and the most recent U.S. Census found that one in five children under the age of five are being cared for by their grandparents while their parents are at work or school. Tehrani, who treats seniors at Brand New Day, a Medicare Advantage prescription health plan available in 12 California counties, says it’s important to keep in mind that children are notorious for spreading germs, so it behooves families to take special precautions to protect their senior caregivers.
“In a time of crisis, it’s natural to want to be with family and help them out, but COVID-19 is potentially deadly especially for seniors,” says Tehrani. “For those who are healthy enough, it’s important to practice safety precautions. For grandparents who are unable to babysit because they suffer from a comorbidity like heart disease and diabetes, they may want to consider other ways of helping out their loved ones like dropping off meals or doing their family’s laundry.”
Asking seniors to social distance from their grandchildren can be emotionally difficult for both parties. While teenagers may understand the practicality of doing so, younger children may not, so he recommends a new children’s book written by a public health specialist called “What Do I Do With My Hugs?" that is available in bookstores nationwide.
Brand New Day, a Medicare Advantage prescription health plan available in 12 California counties, offers a number of specialty plans in addition to its standard Medicare plan. They include the Embrace Plan for members with heart disease, hypertension and/or diabetes; Bridges Plan for members with dementia and Alzheimer’s; SelectCare Plan for members residing in long-term care (nursing homes) facilities; and Harmony Plan for members with mental illness including major depression, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder and paranoid disorder.
For qualifying members, the plans cover transportation to and from medical appointments; vision, dental and hearing aids; 24-hour/day nurse and physician line; and health nurses and life coaches. In addition, members with chronic illnesses are not only treated medically, but in a variety of other ways including education about the member’s chronic or ongoing medical conditions and avoidable risks, nutrition, exercise, self-testing and monitoring, medication adherence to doctor orders, preventive care planning and linkage to community support programs.
Brand New Day offers comprehensive benefit programs designed for its members’ unique healthcare needs. In addition to its Medicare only, Medicare and Medi-Cal members, the plan offers specialized programs for those with ongoing medical conditions including Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease, Dementia and Mental Illness. It also serves those who live in long-term care facilities. Brand New Day's personalized approach is designed to keep its members healthy and independent and its team of caring healthcare professionals share one common goal -- to improve the overall well-being of each member by offering members "healthcare you can feel good about."
For more information about Brand New Day, visit BNDHMO.com or call (866) 255-4795.