iSavta | 13.03.2020
Before the virus reached more than 100 countries around the world, clinical data from China, where the virus originated, suggested that COVID-19 coronavirus is crucially dangerous to older adults ages from 60 years old and above and those with underlying conditions such as heart diseases and diabetes.
The National Health Institute in Italy, known as a country with oldest populations, found that out of the 105 patients who died from COVID-19, the average age was 80. A 20-year old gap between the average age of people who tested positive for the virus and the deceased.
These findings, together with the data gathered from countries with significant numbers of deaths related to COVID-19, concluded that the disease is deadlier in people over age of 60 and those who are immuno-compromised due to other health conditions.
The percentage shown below represents, for a person in a given age group, the risk of dying if infected with COVID-19.
Although this data gives some sort of relief to the younger population, it doesn’t alter the risks of contracting the disease and the possibility of carrying and passing it to the most vulnerable people within your circle, like your parents or grandparents or those who are in poor medical conditions.
In your case as a Caregiver, the most vulnerable is your Employer.
How to Care for the Elderly without putting them at risk of COVID-19:
While the schools are cancelled and the number of confirmed cases are increasing daily, a new set of guidelines are being implemented. One of these is to restrict the family and friends to visit their Elderly family member in Nursing Homes or other facilities for Older Adults.
But, it is entirely impossible to isolate them as they still need a day to day care from someone, whether it’s the staff from the institution of their personal caregiver. Health experts say that there are certain ways to stay in touch with and care for the elderly without putting them at risk of exposure to the virus.
These guidelines are not just for homecare workers or caregivers but also for the elderly themselves and those who need to interact with their loved ones who are older adults.
Guidelines #1: For Everyone (Patient, Caregiver, Family Member)
- Wash Hands with Soap and Water for at least 20 seconds as often as possible.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, mouth with unwashed or unsanitized hands. Use alcohol-based sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid crowded places, handshaking and kissing. Social distancing is important.
- Avoid contact with people who are sick (coughing, sneezing, with fever)
- Submit to self-quarantine and stay at home if you feel sick.
- Cover mouth and nose when you are coughing or sneezing. Wear a mask if possible.
- Practice good overall hygiene by washing yourself and changing your clothes regularly.
- Avoid touching common and frequently “touched” surfaces in public areas like elevator buttons, door knobs, handrails. If necessary, use a tissue to cover your hand or finger and sanitize your hand after.
- Boost your immune system by having enough sleep, eating healthy and exercise.
- Be informed by reliable sources and follow protocols and guidelines imposed by your community, state or country.
Guidelines #2: For Older Adults/Elderly
- Everything listed on Guidelines #1
- Stay at home. Do not go out if it’s not utterly necessary. There’s nothing too important that your caregiver or one of your family members can’t do on your behalf.
- Take your prescribed medicines on time and regularly. Request for immunity booster vitamins from your doctor.
- Watch out for flu-like symptoms and get medical attention immediately.
- Maintain a 3-meter distance from your caregiver or family member as much as possible. Avoid sharing utensils and personal things.
- Cancel plans of going abroad, going to the theater, park or supermarkets. Gathering with friends is also not recommended.
- Find something to do at home to stay active. Walk around your living room for at least 15minutes if you can.
Guidelines #3: For Friends and Family Members
- Everything listed on Guidelines #1
- Think twice about visiting your parents or grandparents. A frequent phone call, facetime or video call is recommended as of the moment.
- Have a back up plan just in case the caregiver gets sick.
- Secure enough supply of primary necessities for your parents such as medicines, food, adult diapers, etc.
- If there’s an outbreak in your area, consider postponing your parent’s doctor’s appointments if it's not utterly important.
- Check on your elderly parents as often as you can. Encourage them to let you know or their caregiver immediately if they feel something is off or they experience flu-like symptoms.
Guidelines #4: For Caregivers
- Everything listed on Guidelines #1
- Wash your hands and face and change your clothes as soon as you get home from outside. Avoid getting near your elderly employer without cleaning yourself. Take a bath if you can before interacting with them.
- Secure enough supplies at home such as food, medicines, your employer’s basic needs (adult diapers, toilet papers, wet tissues, medicines, water, medical equipment, etc).
- List down the numbers to call in case of emergency.
- Cancel your plans of going for a vacation abroad or gathering with friends during the weekend.
- Minimize social interaction and avoid scheduled trips or traveling to any part of the country. Don’t bring your employer to parks, museums or any crowded places.
- Be vigilant and watch out for signs and symptoms of flu as it’s the same with COVD-19 (coughing, sore throat, fever, difficulty breathing). If you or your employer is manifesting these symptoms, get medical attention immediately.
- Maintain a 3-meter distance from your employer as much as possible. If necessary to be near them, make sure your hands are washed and sanitized.
- Make sure your elderly employer take their medications on time.
- Prepare healthy meals such as vegetables and fruits for yourself and your elderly.
- Clean and disinfect your employer’s house regularly, particularly those areas that you always touch.
- Engage with physical activity with your employer. Let them walk around the house for at least 15minutes a day. Let them do some chores if they can like helping you cook or arrange/organize their things.
- Do not panic or cause panic to your elderly. Verify news and information from reliable sources and stay updated.
- Have a plan if you get sick. Know whom to call and where to ask help.
Older adults may face greater risks, but COVID-19 Coronavirus affects everyone. The most dangerous part of this challenge is the rate of contraction. This virus is more contagious than SARS. An exposure to a person who is positive can potentially put you at risk. Although, most of the caregivers are younger than 60 with higher possibility of recovering from the disease, their danger as carriers is crucial to their elderly employers as most of them are already immuno-compromised because of other chronic diseases.
Lastly, stay informed and listen to updates and news from reliable sources. Be more empathetic. Do not be selfish and think about the danger you may bring to other people if you will not follow strict protocols and guidelines.
Remember, COVID-19 has no vaccine and no cure at the moment. But, there are a lot and simple ways for us not to contract the disease and prevent spreading it to our loved ones, employers, friends and our community.