The deadly disease known as coronavirus, or “COVID-19”, first reared its ugly head back in December. COVID-19 has so far infected more than 340,000 people worldwide and the U.S. is seeing hundreds of newly confirmed cases every day, with no end in sight. COVID-19 is also notably more dangerous for those aged 65-and-over, mainly due to immune system deficiencies caused primarily by the aging process. If you’re caring for an older relative right now who’s still living at home, here are 5 tips that can help protect them from coronavirus.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a type of coronavirus that’s part of a larger family of related viruses, all of which cause certain diseases in birds, humans and other mammals. Some coronaviruses cause mild respiratory tract infections, like the common cold, but other forms can be quite deadly, like MERS, SARS and COVID-19. At the present time, there is no vaccine for COVID-19.
Why is COVID-19 so Dangerous for Seniors?
According to a recent report from the World Health Organization, COVID-19 has shown a global mortality rate of over 3.0 % in the infected population. Thankfully, the U.S. has one of the better healthcare systems in the world, which should equate with fewer coronavirus-related fatalities as the number of confirmed cases here rise.
Unfortunately, it’s become clear that infected individuals over the age of 70 have a much greater likelihood of dying from COVID-19 than do younger people. Underlying medical conditions that are common in the elderly, like diabetes, heart disease and lung disease, are additional risk factors for getting infected by COVID-19 and eventually dying from it.
How to Protect a Senior from Coronavirus
As an informal caregiver, the first step is familiarizing yourself with coronavirus symptoms like fever, nausea, vomiting, dry cough, shortness of breath and fatigue. If your loved one starts showing these signs, immediately contact their doctor or the local hospital for further instructions.
To help protect a senior while in their home, take these 5 steps:
Wash Your Hands
Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds, including when you’re preparing food or eating. Studies have found that this is one of the easiest and oftentimes most-overlooked ways to prevent the spread of harmful bacteria and viruses.
A recent study found that COVID-19 can live on paper for up to 24 hours, and plastic and stainless-steel surfaces for up to 3 days. Be sure to use hand sanitizer right after touching any potentially contaminated surfaces. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends hand sanitizers that are at least 60% alcohol.
Clean & Disinfect
It’s a good idea to clean and disinfect all commonly used areas in your loved one’s home when you first get there, like the kitchen, bathroom and dining room. Clean the furniture, countertops, doorknobs, phone and other surfaces with a reliable disinfectant spray or wipes.
Cover Your Mouth & Nose
When coughing or sneezing, be sure to cover your nose and mouth with a tissue, and then promptly throw it in the trash (not your pocket or handbag!). And, if you can find N95 masks in your area, wear one while in your senior’s home.
Stay Home if You’re Sick
You’d be surprised as to how many family caregivers still show up at their loved one’s home when they’re not feeling well. When you are sick, stay home so that you don’t pass it along! If there aren’t any other family members around that can step in, contact a licensed home care agency that can then provide a temporary, or “respite”, caregiver until you’re feeling better.
Find Reliable In-Home Respite Care for Seniors Here
Trying to protect an aging loved one from coronavirus can seem overwhelming at times. When you need a break, contact First in Care Home Health Agency. We are a fully licensed and insured home care agency with respite caregivers that are well-trained on preventative measures for COVID-19. Our goal is providing seniors with dignity, independence and a high quality of life so they can keep aging safely and comfortably in place right where they want to be.
Our full menu of in-home services includes light housework, personal care, companionship, medication reminders, meals, transportation and even around-the-clock care. All our amenities can be individually personalized into an affordable package that will put your mind at ease! To learn more about First in Care today, or to schedule a confidential initial interview for a senior in our service area now, please visit us at: firstincare.com.