Denise Brown already has bought the gin and the chocolate.
It's part of her parents’ wish to stay comfortable in the time of coronavirus.
They don't have COVID-19. But they're 88 and 85, so death is not outside the realm of possibility. And their caregiver daughter wants to have a plan.
'Every worry has a plan'
"I like to say, every worry has a plan,” says Brown, who lives 10 minutes from her parents in the Chicago area. “And if we're making plans, we're in action. And that makes us feel like something is within our control during a situation that's very much out of our control."
Brown, an author, speaker and founder of Caregiving.com, is one of millions of caregivers dealing with the uncertainty and fear of harm amid the COVID-19 pandemic. She hears from families who are terrified that they will somehow expose their older relatives to the virus and cause them to get sick.
Some feel constrained about leaving the house for fear they will bring the virus back home with them. Others are now reluctant to allow home health aides into their homes for the same reason.
"I know I can do everything within my power, and something can still happen that I don't want to happen,” Brown says. “I think it's trying to find that place where you say, ‘I think I've done everything’ and still not have regrets that you could have done more.
"That's the big question for us, right? Could I have done more?” she asks.
The real dangers
Swati Gaur, M.D., a geriatrician in Gainesville, Georgia, understands the anxiety — and the risks. The real danger is that we're dealing with a deadly disease, she says.
"In people 80 years or over, what we are seeing is the case fatality rate is about 18 percent, and that is 1 in 5,” says Gaur, medical director of New Horizons Nursing Facilities with the Northeast Georgia Health System. She is the chief executive officer of Care Advances Through Technology, a technology innovation company, and also works on a national infection advisory committee that's knee-deep in analyzing COVID-19 and advising people about how to handle it.