The current coronavirus pandemic is an unprecedented crisis that threatens the lives of millions. The most at-risk demographic are adults over the age of 60 and individuals with preexisting conditions such as heart disease, cancer, lung disease, and diabetes, among others. COVID-19 has the potential for making seniors very sick with infections putting them at a higher probability for symptoms that could lead to death.
Exposure to the virus puts the elderly at the greatest threat due to their aging immune systems which are completely unprepared to fight the infection. That’s why it is so important to protect seniors from becoming infected and if you are providing senior care services in Bethlehem there are steps you can take to reduce the risks of infection and prevent transmitting the virus to those who are ill-prepared to fight it.
Tips for Caregivers
If you are caring for an elderly individual, you must take precautions that place an emphasis on keeping yourself healthy. There are many methods to help you prevent infection, the first of which is extremely simple: wash your hands. Do so over and over again. Do it after you have you provided care to another individual, after you have used the bathroom, after you have been out in public places, and before you prepare any food.
You should also try to avoid crowds as much as possible. Practice “social distancing” in which you remain at least six feet away from other people. If you need to sneeze, do so into the inside of your elbow.
Above all, do not touch your face. This is the fastest way to transmit the disease as your eyes, your nose, and your mouth are conduits for disease entering the body.
You want to clean any and all surfaces that are touched in the home. This is particularly important for areas where more than one individual spends any amount of time, this would include yourself, any elderly individuals for whom you are providing care, and any other persons who frequent these areas.
Be sure to wipe down medical equipment, railings along staircases, doorknobs and cabinet handles, canes, and anything that your elderly ward or wards may touch on a routine basis.
The Dangers of Isolation
Elderly adults place a great value on spending time with friends and loved ones. But in this time of coronavirus, reducing interaction with others regardless of their health condition is the best way to prevent the spread of infection. However, isolating a senior citizen from those he or she loves can also be damaging to that elderly individual’s mental and physical health.
While social distancing is critical for keeping senior citizens healthy, there is the danger of making that senior feel isolated from the rest of the world. This can lead to seniors feeling depressed and despondent as they are forced into isolation from social settings. They may feel more inclined to put themselves at risk to see family and friends because they do not want to be lonely.
There has to be a fine line between placing a senior at risk through lowered immunity and putting his or her mental health at risk.
So, while it’s important to practice social distancing, it’s also important to encourage seniors to interact with those who are already nearby. Neighbors and roommates in a care facility are obvious but for those who are living alone, they should have the freedom to interact with others so they don’t feel completely cut off from the rest of the world. One way to do that is by calling family and friends on the phone or interacting with them remotely through the internet.
Reducing the Risks of Infection
Seniors with chronic illness should be kept away from public environments. This means postponing any elective procedures, check-ups, and other medical visits that are not an urgent concern. You don’t want to take any chances with your senior’s health, so reduce their exposure to the public.
If a senior need to talk to his or her doctor, doing so on the phone should be sufficient, however, many doctor offices have set up telemedicine options where care and diagnoses can be given remotely. Doing so may require a computer with a camera to conduct video conferencing.
Travel plans that are non-essential should be postponed, even reducing trips to everyday places like grocery stores or the local pharmacy. Remember, the coronavirus can be spread by touch or through airborne particles, so anything you can do to minimize the interaction between your senior and the public must be considered.