The World Health Organization (WHO) highlights coronavirus as a family of viruses that impacts people’s health, ranging from the common cold to more severe illnesses. Examples of coronavirus include the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
A recently discovered coronavirus in December 2019, called COVID-19, is a disease that can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth. Even healthy individuals can indirectly get the virus by handling objects or surfaces that are infected with droplets, then touching their eyes, nose, or mouth.
Regardless of age, individuals can be infected with the new coronavirus. But WHO highlights that the elderly and people with pre-existing medical conditions (like asthma, respiratory illness, and heart diseases) are more susceptible to COVID-19.
To protect the elderly, WHO advises family members to take precautionary steps to protect seniors and family members against the new coronavirus. Yet, it is important to acknowledge what COVID-19 is, along with its symptoms, how it spreads, and recovery statistics.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is an outbreak that began in Wuhan, China. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that there are currently 3,487 total COVID-19 cases, with 68 deaths, in the United States. Five percent of the total cases have travel-related exposure and another five percent have close contact with an infected person. According to the New York Times, 15% of confirmed cases aged 60 and above are at higher risk of fatal infection. Although there is no correlation between the age and the new coronavirus, medical experts believe that seniors are more likely to acquire a severe, life-threatening disease. The situation leaves family members and caregivers in confusion on adding an extra layer of protection to fight coronavirus.
Common Symptoms of COVID-19
makes COVID-19 alarming is that some infected people do not show symptoms of
the disease, referred to as asymptomatic. Yet, WHO states that the most common
indicators of the new coronavirus include fever, tiredness, and dry cough.
Aside from these, infected individuals suffer from muscle pains, nasal
congestion, and diarrhea. Seniors and people with a history of respiratory
illness are at considerable risk of developing serious illness and should seek
medical attention immediately.
How Does It Spread?
COVID-19 is not airborne, but is mainly transmitted through direct contact with infected respiratory droplets. Using facemasks to protect yourself and the elderly is a good way to fight small droplets that can be inhaled unknowingly. Gloves also provide an additional precautionary tool to keep hands off of objects or surfaces that might be possibly infected with droplets from a person with COVID-19.
Government officials deem the public not to succumb to fear, as most infected cases are expected to recover from the said coronavirus. As of March 15, 2020, Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering reported that more than 156,000 people have been infected with COVID-19 in more than 80 countries. There have been over 5,800 deaths and more than 73,000 people have recovered from the disease globally. The statistics imply that the coronavirus has only a 3.7% fatality rate and denotes that individuals have more chances of surviving than not. Yet, the case is different from the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions because of the added immune complications.
Preventive Measurements for the Elderly
The Administration for Community Living (ACL) points out that seniors are twice as likely to get infected with COVID-19 illness, based on early reports and data statistics. As people age, their immune system also changes, making it harder to fight off diseases and infections. Additionally, seniors with a history of health illness will make it difficult for them to deal with and recover from COVID-19.
To help seniors prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, CDC implements three sure-fire ways to protect themselves from viruses: avoid touching the face, prevent close contact with sick people, and stay at home.
1. Avoid touching your face.
Though it might sound simple, touching your face can be challenging to implement. Our hands serve as the breeding ground for viruses, most especially that we are unaware of the things we touch daily. Several bacteria and pathogens can survive on objects for more than a week, which indicates that touching your face after contacting infected surfaces is proven harmful.
If at home, family members should take care of the elderly by cleaning all household surfaces. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lists household disinfectant products that meet its criteria against coronavirus, known as the “List N.”
2. Prevent close contact with sick people.
WHO encourages all individuals, especially the elderly, to distance socially from infected or sick persons. Limiting seniors’ contact to one person to do caregiving duties prevents them from getting viruses from the outside of their homes. Meanwhile, it is your responsibility (as a family member or caregiver) to minimize social interaction outside the home to avoid exposing yourself from such viruses and passing it to the elderly. Alternatively, have the elderly an access to a single location or room in the house.
Common greetings should be avoided, as it is the prime method of transmitting bacteria and viruses from one person to another. Shaking hands, hugging, and kissing are the common greetings that the elderly love to do. However, seniors should refrain from doing one to reduce the chance of transferal.
Personal hygiene should also properly be observed. Washing hands with water and soap for at least 20 seconds does the job of removing the bacteria in your hands. At Oasis Adult Day Center, we ensure that our staffs and clients are safe from viruses. Educating our community with the consequences of COVID-19 and implementing preventive measures allow us to continue professional respite care for the elderly. We provide sanitary measurement to guarantee members that our facilities, equipment, and spaces are free from any virus.
3. Stay at home.
Last but the most effective guideline for seniors is to stay at home. Though some would think that it might bore the elderly, it is a good chance to reconnect with them lightly. Family members should try teaching seniors how to access smartphones or computers as a way to ease them from possible boredom. Instructing them how to use Facebook, Skype, or Facetime allows them to connect with their far-away relatives and know their current situation. If you have no time, encourage seniors to participate in an adult daycare service that provides computer classes for the elderly, like the Oasis Adult Day Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Another way to alleviate seniors’ isolation is by giving them something to enjoy, like solving puzzles, playing chess, or simple gardening activities. Seniors are likely to improve their immune system, as these activities help them reap off the wealth of physical, mental, and emotional benefits. Reading educational resources on how to combat illnesses (aside from COVID-19) works well too. Oasis regularly posts blogs that cater to elderly needs, especially on the activities that contribute to their health and well-being. Oasis Adult Day Center professional staffs have an in-depth knowledge of virus protection. We implement precautionary measures to ensure everyone’s health and safety against COVID-19. Oasis strictly follows WHO and CDC guidelines that primarily target the elderly care by sanitizing our facilities regularly and execute strict hygiene policies. Lastly, we are a community dedicated to making the best care decisions during the times of unusual incidents –promising to deliver programs that help boost seniors’ immune system and, thus, protect them from COVID-19.