What's being labeled as COVID-19, or simply coronavirus, began its worldwide spread back in December 2019. Since then, it's claimed many lives. But, it's also been overcome by many people. Doctors, however, are vigilantly trying to prevent coronavirus in aging adults because they're at a greater risk. If someone's already battling heart disease, respiratory failures, or immune deficiencies, it will be far more difficult to battle against a new, unknown disease.
Below, we've outlined a few specific details about the disease, as well as eight practical steps to keep you or your loved one on the right side of this battle. Communal living needs to be carefully assessed, as well as any unnecessary trips to the doctor's office. Let's take a closer examination.
What Is Coronavirus?
We keep hearing the word being tossed around, much like the bird flu of the past or SARS. So, what is coronavirus and how concerned should we be? Well, the first thing to note is that coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause a wide range of illnesses. Typically, they infect our respiratory systems.
When a new strain is uncovered, it's called a novel coronavirus. Since December 2019, a novel coronavirus, labeled COVID-19, has been spreading throughout the globe. For the purpose of this article, we'll just call it "coronavirus," as the news and media outlets are referring to it.
The virus emerged in China late last year and is spreading all throughout the globe. As of the date of this publication, we currently know of 116,166 confirmed cases worldwide. Although the disease originated in China, there are actually more cases appearing outside of China than within its border.
In a moment, we'll discuss what the virus looks like and how to prevent its spread. Although the entire world's population is currently at risk, again, it's our elderly population that we need to be the most concerned about.
The mortality rate in the elderly is higher because many of the victims were already suffering from pre-existing conditions. Below, we've outlined eight steps that can help prevent coronavirus in seniors. Vigilance is key, and so is proper education.
1. Recognize the Symptoms
Initially, coronavirus presents a lot like the flu. It's an ailment that attacks the lungs. What typically develops first is a dry, hacking cough. Next, there's the presence of a fever and fatigue. Breathing will become more difficult and muscle pain starts to arise.
Sure does sound like the flu, doesn't it? The trouble is, it takes about five days for the symptoms of the virus to start to arise. This is why so many people are unwittingly spreading it. The moment a runny nose or a fever starts to take root, it's time to go on high alert and seek immediate treatment, especially if we're dealing with the coronavirus in the elderly.
2. Seek Immediate Treatment
The moment you or your loved one starts to feel flu-like symptoms, seek medical treatment. It's important for an elderly person not to impede their ability to breathe and a large part of the treatment is breathing support. So, someone with asthma, COPD, or other breathing difficulties will want to get way ahead of the virus.
The trouble is, some people tested negative for the virus, only to find out they did, in fact, have the disease. Don't let this discourage you. Testing kits are available and it's important to be as vigilant as possible. Coronavirus prevention may require more than one professional opinion if you feel something is not being addressed.
3. Avoid Touching Your Face
Did you know we touch our face, on average, 23 times per hour? That means, if we're getting our eight hours of sleep and are awake 16 hours, we touch our faces around 368 times per day. That's nearly 400 opportunities to transmit a virus from our hands to our faces.
And that's the way this virus is transmitted. If someone coughs or sneezes (or even breathes) on someone else, it may already be too late. At least for a time, be hyper aware of how often you or your loved one is touching their face.
Make it a bit of a challenge or a game, if you must. See if you can go against the grain and encourage everyone around you to stop your hand right before it makes a big mistake.
4. Wash Your Hands
As you or your loved one goes through the day, be sure to wash your hands multiple times. This is where all the germs of the world really take hold. If you can either take the opportunity to wash your hands every hour or carry hand sanitizer, then this simple step will be a great layer of protection.
Of course, if something is going on to where you or your loved one are coughing or sneezing more, then be sure to wash your hands after every instance. Germs are absolutely flying about in this scenario and you want to wash them away immediately.
Also, don't leave used tissues around. Never leave them atop a counter or table; discard them immediately. This is a fast way to spread a germ to a surface that someone else will come along and touch. If their next move is to touch their face, then they're likely to ingest some sort of harmful germ.
5. Consider Communal Activities
Residing in an assisted living center will make it difficult to pull back on communal activities. But, it is advised. Perhaps you or your loved one can pull back on Wednesday night dominoes and Friday night's book club meeting.
In a nursing home, common rooms aren't just meeting rooms for friends; they're also meeting rooms for pathogens. One forgetful hug or one simple swig from the wrong cup can bring upon great disaster.
And, sure, this sounds quite melodramatic but, with a virus that's already claimed so many lives, this is no "germaphobe" mentality. For a time, it would be wise to connect with friends via Skype or FaceTime and figure out how to arrange for meals to be enjoyed in the comfort of your own home.
6. Postpone Non-Essential Appointments
Unfortunately, the place people go for medical treatment is also the place where bacteria, germs, and viruses are bouncing off the walls. So, if you or your loved one has multiple doctor appointments coming up, take a hard look at them.
If any of these appointments are non-essential, postpone them until we have a better understanding of the ramifications of this disease. Annual eye visits, six-month teeth cleanings, and other maintenance-type appointments need to be rescheduled for an indeterminate amount of time.
Telemedicine is also something many doctors might be willing to consider. If you're an established patient somewhere, perhaps they'll consider e-prescribing your next refill or speaking with you regarding your symptoms over the phone.
While we're on the subject of doctors' offices, it may also be wise to avoid pharmacies. See if you or your loved one can have their prescriptions delivered. Without question, now's the time to consider any and all delivery services that you can afford.
7. Stay Up to Date on Vaccines
We know; we just advised people to stay away from doctors' offices and now we're suggesting a visit to a healthcare professional. Well, in this case, you may want to strap on a face mask, be cognizant of not touching anything, and carry a vat of hand sanitizer to your doctor if you're not up-to-date on any vaccines.
The flu and pneumonia vaccinations are two considerations. Coming down with a major illness in these uncertain times would be detrimental. So, if you or your loved one isn't up to date on their vaccines, now's the time.
Also, your doctor can tell you if a booster shot may be advisable. It is evident the viruses we are plagued with change over time and so do our vaccines. If you're a candidate for a booster to any of your existing vaccines, your doctor will be able to help you armor up.
8. Keep Boosting Your Immune System
In the midst of a small bout of isolation and intensive hand washing, don't forget to maintain immune boosters. Keep taking your daily vitamins. Elderberry is often touted as a great immune booster, as is Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and silver.
Drink fresh-squeezed orange juice along with any other natural alternatives; consider probiotics. The best way to feed our system is through the food we eat. Intake plenty of greens, such as spinach and kale, along with healthy meats and fish.
Make Every Effort to Prevent Coronavirus
With the right precautions, you can prevent coronavirus from ever touching you or your family's lives. What's the saying about an ounce of prevention? It's worth a pound of cure because, with an unknown virus like this, the end results are hard to predict.
If you're concerned about an elderly friend or family member, know Lifestyle Home Care is here to facilitate your loved one's non-medical treatment. We believe elderly family members should be able to age in peace, from the comfort of their own home. We also feel this is the best way to recover during post-operative care.
If you have a family member who's aging or in recovery, we can provide non-medical care that will put your mind at ease. Knowing they're not home alone while you carry out your daily activities can provide wonderful relief.
Allow our staff to assist your loved one in their daily activities and dietary needs. Meal prep will no longer be a burden for your loved one and we can run those errands that they're trying to avoid (including prescription drop-off and pickup).
If you live in Bakersfield or Kern County, California, we hope you'll contact us today. Allow us to become a part of your family and bring tremendous peace in our wake.