CARING for the elderly is daunting enough without a pandemic. With the risks of contamination and severity of consequences posed by the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) to those who are advanced in years, many families need assistance from local government units and communities to shield and care for their older members.
“We are all frontliners,” said infectious disease specialist Dr. Bryan Albert Lim in urging younger family members to “double” their precaution in living arrangements to ensure that their elderly are less exposed to other household members who are more mobile and interacting frequently with the public.
In Wenilyn B. Sabalo’s Feb. 4 report in SunStar Cebu, Lim suggested measures to enable families to balance health and livelihood, two priorities made precarious by Covid-19.
Lim suggested separating the living set-up, dining and sleeping quarters at home to protect the elderly and other members with comorbidity or having more than one existing disease or condition. He said eating and sleeping involve the removal of masks and the relaxation of precautions.
However, segregation of quarters is difficult to pursue for middle-class and urban poor families living in houses with only a few rooms or limited space. Physical distancing is a luxury for many residents who already stay outside cramped homes or make their homes in public spaces, such as in front of storefronts after closing time, under bridges and on unoccupied lots.
The traditional culture that considers it filial duty to care for one’s parents promotes the practice of younger members, who work and may be exposed to Covid-19, also caring for elderly members. With many Filipinos retrenched or furloughed by the economic crisis, hospice care and professional caregivers are expenses that can no longer be shouldered by financially strapped breadwinners.
Thus, there is urgent need for the passing of a legislation that proposes a barangay system of providing home care support services for indigent persons with severe disabilities and the elderly with illnesses in Cebu City.
Cebu City Councilor Alvin Dizon authored a bill in February 2020 that proposes barangays will set up a socialized system of home care services for families unable to afford private caregivers, personal assistants or hospices for their elderly or members with disability.
The Cebu City Government has registered around 77,000 senior citizens and about 10,000 persons with disability (PWDs).
According to a Feb. 5 post on Dizon’s Facebook page, the proposed measure is scheduled for final reading and final deliberation this month. Last Feb. 4, the Cebu City Council conducted a public hearing with stakeholders.
Despite pandemic restrictions that limit the mobility of the elderly, many citizens need to leave their homes to seek maintenance medical services, such as hemodialysis, in hospitals and other private dialysis centers.
The risks of exposure to Covid-19 are mitigated if indigent patients who are elderly or disabled receive community assistance in availing of these life-prolonging maintenance medical services outside the home.
Depending on their conditions, patients require hemodialysis treatments twice or thrice a week. Lasting from three to four hours, hemodialysis sessions leave the elderly or those with weaker constitutions fatigued, a challenge for those who are commuting, finishing their hemodialysis sessions in the evening, or having insufficient resources for food and supplements.
A caregiver does not just render essential services at home but in other areas for securing food or medical needs, such as groceries, hospitals, pharmacies and even government agencies and foundations where financial assistance can be secured.
Aside from ensuring that the elderly and PWDs are assisted in procuring their needs, caregiving services safeguard this vulnerable sector from being exposed to Covid-19, having accidents, or deteriorating in their conditions.