As depicted on news media coverage and CDC recommendations, older adults are more at risk of serious illness due to coronavirus, especially individuals with pre-existing conditions and immune compromised. Seniors in the community may be living independently or relying on informal support such as neighbors, friends and family. Therefore, the coronavirus outbreak may be more concerning for those supporting a senior in a household versus a long term care community.
Below are a few suggestions family members may want to consider as precautions to protect seniors from COVID-19:
- Follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for latest information and guidelines. Current recommendation tis to prepare home to limit time in public areas. CDC’s advice is “Best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus.” https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications/older-adults.html
- Maintain social distancing, at least 6 feet, when in public. The virus will also spread easily among people in the same household, so refrain from sharing personal items
- Limit contact with elder. Designate and delegate one primary caregiver to provide contact in the home. Primary caregiver may want to be mindful and limit daily interactions to reduce risk of exposure.
- Wash hands with water and soap for at least 20 seconds. Regular soap and water are the most effective protection against spreading the virus. If you use a hand sanitizer, ensure it has 60% alcohol base. Cover all the surfaces on your hands and continue to rub until dry.
- Clean all household surfaces daily with EPA-registered household disinfectants. For a list, refer to this website https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2
- Postpone non-essential doctor and dental visits
- Stay connected with video chat through skype or facetime.
Lastly, ensure to take care of yourself as a caregiver. Fear and anxiety accompanying COVID-19 pandemic may feel overwhelming with every day stresses of being a caregiver. Your reaction to the current situation impacts the reaction of those you care for. Confidence and calmness offer clarity and help to prepare for challenges that lie ahead.