The novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, is just one in a family of viruses.
Some strains of coronavirus affect animals, like dogs and cats, while others affect only humans, as appears to be the case with COVID-19. The virus was first discovered in Wuhan City in China. The first infections are believed to have started in a live animal market. Now, the virus is spreading between people and has been detected in several countries, including the United States. News coverage of the virus is certainly disturbing as many people have died.
Still, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that the chances of people in the United States being infected by COVID-19 are low. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take precautions to protect your aging relative and prepare for possible spread of the infection where they live.
Things to Do
-Wash Hands: Frequently washing hands can help to prevent the spread of germs. It’s important to wash hands thoroughly, for at least 20 seconds using soap and water. Hand sanitizer is also effective as long as it contains at least 60 percent alcohol.
-Know the Symptoms: Being able to recognize the symptoms of COVID-19 can help the older adult to get medical help sooner and help to prevent the virus from spreading to others. The virus has symptoms similar to the flu, like coughing, fever, and shortness of breath.
-Stay Home: Experts recommend that seniors avoid spending time in public places where they are more likely to be exposed to the virus. This is especially true if the older adult has an existing condition, such as heart disease, COPD, or diabetes.
-Stock Up: In case the older adult does get sick, it’s a good idea to stock up on necessities in case they must be quarantined and cannot leave the house. Some things you may want to get are extras of prescription drugs, disinfectants, and non-prescription pain relievers.
Things Not to Do
-Touch the Face: The virus can enter the body through the nose, mouth, or eyes, so seniors should keep their hands away from their face.
-Wear a Mask: Seniors who are not ill should not wear a mask. They are only necessary for people who are already ill. Masks don’t keep people who are healthy from getting the virus, but they are useful in helping to prevent sick people from spreading their germs.
-Take Antibiotics: If your older family member has some extra antibiotics from a previous illness, taking them won’t help if they catch the coronavirus. Antibiotics are not effective against viruses.
Elderly care can help your older family member to take precautions to prevent the coronavirus. An elderly care provider can remind them to wash their hands often. They can also keep surfaces in the house disinfected when cleaning the house. In addition, an elderly care provider can help to entertain seniors who are staying at home to avoid the virus by doing activities with them, such as playing games or doing crafts.