If you’re the caregiver of an older adult who’s been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you may wonder what activities they can safely do. While it’s important to still take safety precautions since older adults are considered high-risk for severe illness and death from the virus, it’s also essential that they regain some sense of normalcy and have opportunities to socialize with others. In this article, we’ll share tips for keeping the person you care for healthy – both mentally and physically.
Who is considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19?
COVID-19 vaccines are effective at reducing the risk of severe illness, hospitalization and death. A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving their second dose of a two-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after receiving a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine. If your care recipient hasn’t met these criteria, they’re not fully vaccinated and should continue to take all recommended precautions.
Also, certain medical conditions and medications can weaken the immune system. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has relaxed some guidelines for vaccinated individuals, it’s important to remember that the vaccines have not been proven to be 100% effective for all individuals and that the risk of serious illness and death from COVID-19 increases with age. Older adults – and their caregivers and families – should continue to be vigilant about COVID-19 safety. Always check with your family member’s physician before they participate in new activities.
What can older adults do after getting vaccinated?
The CDC says fully vaccinated people can now:
- Visit indoors with other fully vaccinated people without social distancing or wearing masks.
- Gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household without wearing masks or social distancing (as long as the unvaccinated people aren’t at high risk of severe COVID-19 illness and don’t live with a high-risk person).
- Participate in outdoor activities (such as walking or visiting a park) without wearing a mask, as long as the area isn’t too crowded.
The CDC recommends all vaccinated adults continue to take the following precautions:
- Wear a mask and practice social distancing when visiting public indoor spaces.
- Wear a mask when gathering indoors with unvaccinated people from more than one household.
- Wear a mask when visiting unvaccinated people who are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
- Practice regular hand hygiene.
- Cover coughs and sneezes.
- Get tested if you have COVID-19 symptoms.
- Avoid large indoor gatherings.
- Follow CDC and health department travel guidelines and requirements.
Safe activities for fully vaccinated older adults
Older adults have been impacted by the pandemic physically (they account for 80% of COVID-related deaths) and mentally. The social isolation and stress of the pandemic have led to increased rates of anxiety and depression in adults of all ages. According to the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey, since the beginning of the pandemic, one in four older adults has reported anxiety or depression.
Not only can loneliness and social isolation increase the risk of depression and anxiety, but it can also raise the risk of a weakened immune system, dementia, heart disease and even death.
To protect the mental health of older adults, they can slowly resume some social and outdoor activities to get them out of the house and interacting with others. Here are some ideas for safer activities to consider based on CDC guidance:
- Spend time on the porch or patio.
- Visit with a small number of family members or friends (as long as all individuals are healthy).
- Go for a neighborhood walk.
- Visit a local park or garden.
- Visit an uncrowded museum or shopping center.
- Dine outdoors at a restaurant.
- Attend a religious service.
Please note: You and your care recipient should wear masks, practice social distancing and wash your hands regularly when visiting a public indoor space.
Here are more ideas for fun activities for older adults.
How caregivers can keep care recipients safe
As a caregiver, here’s how you can keep the person you care for safe:
- Get fully vaccinated.
- Use personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Keep their home clean and sanitized.
- Plan outdoor activities for them to enjoy.
- Stay aware of local conditions and if COVID-19 is spreading in your community.
- Participate in the CareLinx CareAcademy, where you can learn about a variety of care and companionship topics.
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