As you likely know, seniors ages 65 and up and people who have chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, cancer and hypertension are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19. As such, the CDC and health practitioners everywhere are urging you to take extra precautions to reduce your risk. But what does that really mean?
Here are some specific health and wellness tips to help you through this challenging time.
You may question why your age automatically makes you high risk. But it’s important to understand that even if you’re perfectly healthy, our immune systems grow weaker as we age, which makes it more difficult to fight off infectious diseases such as COVID-19. In addition, chronic diseases – also more common with age - can compromise the immune system and make you more vulnerable to serious complications. That’s why it’s so important to reduce your risk by following CDC guidelines such as:
You can put the CDC guidelines into action by:
Making sure you have enough food and medication to last for an extended amount of time at home or that you have reliable delivery options. Most grocery stores now offer delivery options, but plan ahead as the higher volume of people using these services can mean limited availability. Many pharmacies are offering free delivery or shipping as well. If you have to go in-store, check locally to see if they are offering special hours for seniors. For food delivery, check options at local restaurants as well as services such as Door Dash and Uber Eats.
Understanding what to do and not to do if you have to go out. Only wear a facemask if you are caring for someone who is sick as they are in short supply and should be saved for caregivers. The same holds true for gloves - unless you are changing them between every interaction, it’s the same as wearing no gloves at all!
However, you should:
Cleaning and disinfecting all frequently touched surfaces such as tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets and sinks. You can: use EPA-registered household disinfectants; dilute your household bleach using 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water or 4 teaspoons of bleach per quart of water; use an alcohol solution with at least 70 percent alcohol.
Considering telemedicine for non-emergent medical issues such as allergies, sinus infections, pink eye or managing existing conditions such as asthma, diabetes as well as to treat anxiety and depression. You simply use a website link or an app to connect with your healthcare professional remotely over a secure video chat. The federal government is working to expand telemedicine access for those with Medicare and urged states to do the same with Medicaid. Many insurance companies and other providers are temporarily waiving fees as well. Always check your specific coverage before making an appointment.
It may seem counterintuitive; however, there are advantages to being in a senior living community during this time rather than navigating COVID-19 challenges on your own.
There’s trained staff experienced with outbreaks such as flu and Norovirus. The staff can watch for symptoms and provide prompt assistance.
There’s also the convenience of not having to worry about having enough supply of medications, food and other necessities as well as peace of mind that the most up-to-date CDC recommendations seniors are followed, including cleaning and social distancing.
For examples of how our communities are responding in these ways to ensure the health and safety of our residents, patients and associates, please visit our COVID-19 updates page.