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A senior citizen sits alone on her bed with a respirator or surgical mask and looks sadly and frightened out of the window and into the camera

COVID-19 Safety Precautions for Seniors

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives. It is essential to follow all necessary safety measures to protect our loved ones. Many of us have family members, friends, or clients who are in a high-risk group, either due to age or underlying health conditions. There are several ways we can care for these individuals and reduce their risk of serious complications from COVID-19. 

Are seniors a high-risk group?

According to the CDC, an individual's risk for complications from COVID-19 increases with age. The greatest risk for severe complications from COVID-19 is among adults over the age of 85, and 8 out of 10 COVID-related deaths in the United States have occurred in the 65+ age group. Underlying medical conditions can also put people at risk for severe illness related to the virus. 

How to reduce risk in seniors

It's important that seniors and their caretakers take as many measures as possible to reduce risk. To start, these individuals should refrain from visiting public places as much as possible to reduce exposure. When you do have to venture out to a store or a highly populated area, certain measures can help reduce your risk of contracting the virus. Wear a face covering, maintain a distance of six feet from others, wash hands often, and disinfect surfaces (like steering wheels and door knobs). 

Seniors and their caregivers should monitor their temperature daily and contact a medical professional at the first signs of any symptoms. Symptoms include, but are not limited to: fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath, body aches, loss of taste or smell, nausea, vomiting, and fatigue. Keep in mind that some symptoms require attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include: any trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new signs of confusion or disorientation, inability to wake or stay awake, and bluish tint to lips or face.

Vaccinations should be up-to-date, and older adults should talk to their doctors about vaccinations for flu and pneumococcal disease. Maintaining physical activity is a wonderful way to strengthen the immune system and combat stress, so everyone should try to incorporate some kind of physical activity into their day.

It's a great idea to keep a 30-day supply of all prescriptions, and seniors should continue taking their medications as directed. Family members should take turns checking in daily on their older relatives who live alone. 

Keeping your senior's house safe and clean

There are a number of ways that caregivers and family members can keep their seniors' homes clean and sanitary. These measures can help reduce the spread of germs and keep their home safe. In addition to frequent hand-washing, wearing a mask, and keeping a safe distance, these housekeeping tips will help reduce exposure and possible contamination. 

  • Keep the garbage tidy. Make sure there is always a liner or bag in the garbage can. Place all used masks and gloves into the liner. Wash hands after removing liner and bringing garbage outside. 

  • Update your laundry habits. Wear gloves when handling dirty laundry and avoid shaking dirty laundry. Wash and dry clothing on the hottest setting possible. Clean and disinfect all dirty hampers and laundry baskets between uses. 

  • Disinfect frequently-used surfaces. Clean areas first with soap and water. Then use a disinfectant on door knobs, light switches, counters, appliance handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks, electronics, and garbage can lids daily. 

This is a stressful time for many of us. We want to keep our loved ones safe, especially those at higher risks for severe complications. Following the recommended safety guidelines is an excellent way to reduce the spread of COVID-19. It's also important to check in on any seniors who don't have a caregiver. Give them a call on a daily basis, make sure they are feeling healthy and symptom-free. Try to ease their worries and keep their spirits up as well. Maintaining a positive outlook and finding something that makes us happy during these times is essential. Feel free to contact Senior Helpers Crown Point to learn more about taking care of your older family members and friends during the pandemic.