COVID-19 is particularly concerning for people age 65 and older, especially if they have underlying health conditions. The list of those conditions according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) include:
- Chronic lung disease
- Moderate-to-severe asthma
- Heart conditions
- Chronic kidney disease
- Liver disease
The list also includes people who are immunocompromised, which includes:
- People undergoing cancer treatments
- People taking immune weakening medications
- Bone marrow or organ transplant patients
Because senior adults are more susceptible to serious complications from COVID-19 they need a plan of action to follow to keep them safe. And if you are a family caregiver in the home, you need to adhere to the plan with them.
Do I Have COVID-19?
The CDC has identified a number of symptoms consistent with those who have tested positive for COVID-19. However, just because you suffer for these symptoms does not mean that you have the virus:
- Low-grade fever
- Respiratory (breathing) issues
- Shaking with chills
- Muscle pain
- Sore throat
- Loss of sense of smell or taste
People experiencing at least two of the above symptoms should contact their physician. However, do not visit the physician’s office or your hospital emergency room until consulting with your physician by phone.
If after speaking with the physician it is decided that emergency services should be called, please share the symptoms of the senior, so that the emergency professionals can be adequately prepared before reaching the home.
What To Do in the Meantime
Until the pandemic is under control, the best line of defense is to remain at home and practice social distancing.
In addition, follow these other precautions:
- Rest and stay hydrated
- Stay in touch with your physician
- Do not neglect other health conditions
- Use home delivery services or ask a family caregiver to deliver items like groceries
- Do not neglect good nutrition or exercise
- Wash hands frequently for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, particularly after handling just-delivered mail or packages
- Frequently scrub often-touched surfaces with disinfectant
Isolation is Good . . . and Bad
Staying at home without human contact can help prevent COVID-19 from having its devastating consequences on seniors, but isolation and the depression that may follow can be devastating for seniors as well.
In any plan of action, ensure you’re taking steps to account for this because it’s a critical time for family members to make contact with senior loved ones. Phone, email, wave through a window, and just let them know you are thinking about them.
To learn about more planning and safety tips, check out the Senior Home Safety section of our blog.