To say that the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has dramatically and drastically changed the way people do things is an understatement. With seniors being one of the most vulnerable, new safety measures have been set to ensure they are protected accordingly and at all times. While there’s no shortage of ways to protect the elderly and minimize their risk of contracting the virus, senior home care ranks high.
In this article, find out all there is to know about the COVID-19 virus and how senior home care can help.
COVID-19 in a nutshell
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), COVID-19 is “an infectious disease caused by the newly discovered coronavirus.” Most individuals infected can develop mild to moderate respiratory illness that won’t require any special treatment.
However, older people and individuals with underlying medical conditions are more prone to developing serious complications that might merit immediate medical attention. Among these conditions are diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer.
How the virus spreads
A clear understanding of how the virus spreads is crucial as it will allow you to not only protect yourself and others as well, including providing optimal senior home care. To date, no vaccine is available to combat the virus. However, social distancing and wearing masks are encouraged to help slow down the spread of the virus so it does not end up overwhelming the health care system.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the virus can spread through:
- Person-to-person contact – between people who are within 6 feet of each other
- Contaminated surfaces – touching a surface that has been touched by an infected individual can increase one’s chances of contracting the virus
- Respiratory droplets – produced when an infected individual speaks, sneezes, or coughs
Recent studies also suggest that the virus may be spread by individuals not exhibiting any symptoms. Also, since many seniors have chronic diseases, are medically unstable, or have compromised immune systems, they are more vulnerable to developing fatal complications once infected. That’s all the more reason to focus on how to provide the best possible senior health care.
COVID-19’s impact on assisted living communities
Since there are large groups of people in assisted living communities, the risk for infection is undoubtedly high. Other risk factors for those living in assisted living communities include:
- Many residents are older and require medical care. People that need medical care might have to visit health providers living outside the facility. Any outside travel is believed to increase one’s risk of exposure to the virus.
- Safety protocols are not always enforced. With hundreds of people living in close proximity, it can be especially challenging to enforce the safety protocols recommended by the CDC.
Senior home care: The viable alternative
Practicing social distancing is considered one of the best ways to protect older people from exposure to the COVID-19 virus. Going out to shop for groceries or medications can significantly increase their risk of infection.
Fortunately, this is where senior home care can come in handy. With caregivers doing most things on their behalf, seniors can safely quarantine in the comforts of their own homes.
- Grocery or other shopping. Having a caregiver shop on their behalf will allow older adults to avoid crowds at department or grocery stores.
- Pick up medications. Caregivers can also go to the pharmacy to renew or pick up medications.
- Banking and bill payments. Caregivers can help deposit checks or assist with other banking needs. They can also help ensure bills are paid on time.
- Companionship. Being confined to the four corners of the house for a really long time can get lonely, especially for seniors. Undoubtedly, the companionship of a seasoned, competent, and compassionate caregiver can bring a sense of stability and calm during these uncertain times.
- Setting up family communication or telehealth options. With strict social distancing requirements in place, seniors are encouraged to take advantage of telehealth options. Caregivers can help set this up, especially for seniors who are not tech-savvy. In addition, time away from friends and family can be hard for seniors. Thankfully, caregivers can assist with technologies like Skype so they can stay in touch even while in quarantine.
Additional safety measures for senior home care
If you have an elderly loved one, consider it your responsibility to remind them and their caregivers of the safety measures they need to observe strictly. Start with the following safety precautions recommended by the CDC.
Encourage them to wash their hands often
- Handwashing is key to preventing sickness. Wash hands immediately with soap and water if they’ve been to a public place or after coughing, sneezing, or blowing their nose. Washing the hands for 20 seconds is ideal.
- If soap and water are not available, using a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol content is the next best option.
- Inform seniors to be very vigilant about not touching their face, nose, eyes, or mouth with unwashed hands.
Observe social distancing
- Avoid any close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay at home and avoid crowds as much as possible.
- Observe a significant distance when around other people, including family members and caregivers the elderly will be interacting with at home.
- Avoid gatherings of any kind and stay away from crowded places.
Clean and disinfect
- Remind them to always clean and disinfect surfaces they frequently touch. This includes sinks, faucets, light switches, countertops, tables, desks, keyboards, and mobile phones.
- Clean dirty surfaces with water and soap or detergent first, prior to disinfection.
- Use a household disinfectant. Most EPA-registered household disinfectants would suffice.
About the author
Sarah Keller is the Content Marketing Strategist of A To Z Home Care, a team of professional home care providers based in Phoenix, Arizona that specializes in long-term care for your loved ones. She enjoys riding horses and camping with her friends and family in her spare time.