The novel coronavirus, commonly known as COVID-19, which burst on the scene in 2020, has changed much of the world as we know it. While COVID-19 spreads more easily than other illnesses like the flu, an additional unique attribute is that it also appears to cause more serious symptoms in specific populations.
Two groups of people that are especially susceptible are older adults and those who have serious underlying medical conditions like lung disease, heart disease or diabetes or have a condition that affect their immune system.
Because symptoms of COVID-19 can take longer to appear than symptoms of the flu or common cold, it's important that everyone, including those who aren’t considered high-risk, take proper precautions to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
Below are seven tips to avoid spreading COVID-19 to high-risk individuals, specifically senior citizens. By following these precautions, you can help avoid potentially spreading the virus unknowingly and also help to protect yourself and your family.
Practice social distancing wherever possible
Although it can be hard to remain socially distant all the time, many companies have adjusted their operating policies to encourage social distancing. Activities once done in person like banking, grocery shopping and provider visits can now be done online.
When in-person visits are needed, minimize your risk
You may try and shift in-person activities online, but sometimes certain activities need to be done in person. If you find yourself having to do something face to face, avoid close contact and stay at least six feet or two arm lengths away from one another.
Six feet is the average distance that respiratory droplets from a sneeze or cough travel before they settle and are no longer likely to be inhaled by other people. Because of this, it’s recommended that you keep a minimum distance of six feet from others to avoid exposure to these droplets.
Wear CDC approved masks correctly when in public
COVID-19 mostly spreads from person to person through respiratory droplets that are released when you breathe, talk, cough or sneeze. This makes proper face coverings a must to reduce the transmission of the virus. It’s important to find a mask that completely covers your nose and mouth comfortably.
If you find yourself constantly having to adjust your mask, it is likely the wrong size for your face. Additionally, one often missed task when it comes to reusable face masks is keeping them clean. It’s important to wash reusable cloth face masks every day, whether you toss them in the washing machine or clean them by hand with hot, soapy water.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily
For frequently touched surfaces like doorknobs, countertops and toilets, regular soap and water should be your first layer of defense. If you are looking to perform an additional deep cleaning, be sure to disinfect with a household disinfectant on the Environmental Protection Agency’s list of approved COVID-19 disinfectants.
Following all of the instructions on a products label is critical, as failing to do so will limit the effectiveness of the product.
Wash your hands with warm water and soap regularly
It may seem simple, but the best thing you can do to protect yourself is scrub your hands with regular soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Viruses commonly spread to the hands by sneezing, coughing or rubbing the eyes, and they can then be transferred to people you come in contact with.
By keeping your hands clean, you greatly reduce the chances of spreading the virus and even reduce your risk of getting sick yourself. When washing, make sure to scrub all areas of your hands, including your palms, the backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your fingernails.
Be prepared before you are sick in case you’ll need to stay home
Having a plan if you do get sick is essential to preventing potential virus spread. The last thing you want is to have to make a trip to the store if you are infected with COVID-19. Plan accordingly and make sure you have enough groceries, household items and any necessary medications on hand.
If you find yourself in a bind without help, many delivery services are available to deliver items you may need. Although helpful, these delivery services often charge service fees that can add up over time. Having a designated person who can cook meals, run errands and bring you medication as needed is a better plan. Be sure to limit exposure when possible if you are sick and have items dropped off without face-to-face contact.
Pay attention to mental health
According to a poll done in July 2020, 53% of adults in the United States reported negative mental health effects due to concern and anxiety about COVID-19. For this group, those negative mental health impacts manifested as anxiety, depression or even poor sleep quality.
This is important not only for your own personal well-being, but especially if you know an older adult or someone with an underlying medical condition that requires them to quarantine a long period of time. If you have a loved one in isolation, be sure to call or video chat frequently.
If you want to visit in person, you may need to adjust your normal routine and keep a distance by meeting through a window or door. Online games or interactive apps are also a great way to interact with your loved ones from afar.
If you feel you may have been exposed to COVID-19 and are currently experiencing symptoms, CareNow® clinics provide COVID-19 testing. CareNow® also provides a COVID-19 antibody test if you would like to see if you have been infected previously. If you find yourself with severe COVID-19 symptoms that may indicate a life-threatening emergency, go to the nearest hospital or emergency room as soon as possible.
Be sure to take advantage of the Web Check-In® feature on our website. This allows you to avoid the waiting room during your appointment so you can stay as safe as possible.
Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you.