The Coronavirus pandemic has spread to nearly every country in the world, and it has hit the senior population especially hard. Seniors older than 55 are at the greatest risk for developing the worst symptoms or long-term effects. Here is what at-risk seniors should know about the Coronavirus and how to avoid it.
Older Adults are at High Risk
Compromised immune systems and chronic illnesses mean that older adults are the most high-risk demographic in this global pandemic. The virus attacks the respiratory system, which is often weaker in older adults. The pandemic has by and large spared children and youth, but the majority of the most serious cases are adult men over the age of 65. This means that seniors have to be especially vigilant in distancing themselves from people who may be infected.
Social Distancing is Key
In Washington state, multiple seniors in a retirement facility contracted the virus, passing it from one person to another in a short period of time. Seniors tend to live in homes with adult children and grandchildren, and unfortunately they are the demographic most likely to contract the illness. The key to keeping yourself safe during this period is to avoid people as much as possible. If you have family members who are exhibiting symptoms like a dry cough, runny nose or fever, quarantine yourself away from them for at least 14 days or until their symptoms disappear.
When out in public, stay at least six feet from other people at all times. Avoid large gatherings like worship services, movie theaters, shopping centers and large events.
Stock Up on Supplies
If you have been exposed to the Coronavirus, you may be asked to self-quarantine for a period of up to 14 days. This will mean that you will be unable to leave your home or have contact with visitors. Stocking up on the necessities like bottled water, non-perishable food, paper goods and cleaning supplies is critical. You may also want to get masks, rubber gloves and hand sanitizer as well. Renew any prescriptions that you will need in the next 30 days, and see if you can get a 90-day supply. If you can, use a delivery service to get what you need or have another person pick up supplies for you. It is best that you avoid crowds at this time, and supermarkets will likely be crowded.
Avoid Non-Essential Travel and Cruises
The major cruise lines have suspended operations through mid-April, 2020, but it is probably best that you avoid cruises even after that point. Cruise ships have always been ripe for outbreaks, but this virus is much more deadly than others and spreads quickly. Buffets, shows and casinos are prime places for you to contract the virus, so avoiding cruises altogether is prudent at this time.
Avoid air travel unless absolutely necessary. Airports will put you into contact with thousands of other travelers, some from affected areas. Many of the newest cases of Coronavirus were from travelers who had flown between cities and infected people while in route. The best course of action is to stay home as much as possible and avoid airports, train stations and bus stations.
Wash Your Hands Often
One of the best defenses you have against the Coronavirus is hand washing. Wash your hands with antibacterial soap whenever you are in contact with strangers. If you ride public transportation, use hand sanitizer to keep your hands germ-free. Avoid touching your nose, mouth or face while you are away from home. Say no to handshakes, hugs or any close contact in order to mitigate your risk. As an additional precaution, require that all people wash their hands upon entering your home.
Limit your exposure to people who are sick. Avoid visiting sick friends, going to hospitals (unless you are being treated) or allowing sick people in your home. If you have regular, non-critical doctor’s appointments, avoid them if you can. Many doctors can “visit” with their patients remotely through video technology. Explore this option if it is available.
Build Up a Team
Now is the time to lean on your family and friends to help you to get through this pandemic. Make sure that there is someone who has all of your essential information–the name of your doctor, emergency contacts and health information–and can communicate with emergency personnel if you become ill. Enlist your team to bring you supplies, food and medication, if necessary.
Experts don’t recommend completely isolating yourself socially. Social isolation can be physically and mentally damaging, and in some cases, dangerous. Take precautions when interacting with others, and limit your social circle to members of your “team,” and a few trusted others to avoid contracting the virus.
Know the Warning Signs of Coronavirus
The main three symptoms of Coronavirus are a cough, fever and shortness of breath. If you have all three of these symptoms, call your doctor immediately. The doctor will let you know if you should come in for a test. If you are instructed to come into the doctor’s office, do not use public transportation. Have a trusted, non-infected member of your support team drive you. If you have a mask, wear it with you to your appointment.
If you can’t get in touch with your doctor, there are local hotlines that you can call for more information on what to do next. While it is impossible for them to diagnose Coronavirus by phone, they can point you in the direction of resources that you need until you can see a doctor.
If your doctor diagnoses you with the Coronavirus, she may simply send you home to self-quarantine. During this time, you will have to avoid the general public and remain in your home for up to two weeks while you recover.
When it comes to dealing with the global pandemic caused by the spread of the Coronavirus, it can be easy to fall into a panic. By taking the right precautions, understanding the symptoms and limiting your exposure, you will decrease the likelihood that you will contract the virus.