COVID-19 Pandemic: How Seniors Should Prepare
Since its explosion onto the scene in January, the Novel Coronavirus, labeled COVID-19, has taken hold of the world’s attention. This new virus has caused an upheaval across the US and the rest of the world, with nearly every country reporting at least one case. To date, there have been 236,384 confirmed cases worldwide and 9,790 deaths, both of which are increasing seemingly by the minute. Live maps are updated with new data regularly, and with each passing day the news is increasingly concerning.
Even more concerning is the data regarding those over the age of 60. According to early reports, the fatality rate can be anywhere from 4.6% for ages 60-69 to 18% for 80 and over. Preexisting conditions also pose a major threat. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), fatality rate increased from 1.4% to up to 13.2% for adults with cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, hypertension, chronic respiratory diseases and cancer.
These statistics would be worrisome on their own, but are even more concerning when considering the long incubation period and the number of those likely infected who have mild to no symptoms. This means that some may be carrying the virus, unknowingly, and infecting people for days (or even up to two weeks) without realizing it.
The data can cause major panic, but it’s important to understand in order to both prevent the spread of the virus and “flatten the curve”, a phrase used to describe how to prevent many people from becoming sick at once. If the spread can be slowed, the healthcare systems will be less overwhelmed and more equipped to help those who are severely or critically ill.
This information is especially important for seniors, both with and without preexisting health conditions. While everyone can be infected or become ill, it’s clear that, thus far, seniors are the most vulnerable. More than ever, seniors should create plans of action and implement certain practices and habits for the near future to protect themselves and their loved ones. We at iDeal Comparison, the leading website for medical alert system reviews, have answered some common questions about how to approach this COVID-19 pandemic effectively. First, below is an interactive map from Johns Hopkins University detailing the spread of COVID-19 globally.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
The CDC has outlined the general symptoms for COVID-19. The three main symptoms are fever, shortness of breath, and cough. The CDC also recommends seeking immediate medical attention for adults who have difficulty breathing, persistent chest pain, bluish lips or face, or confusion and inability to arouse. Of course, these are just the main symptoms; many have reported additional symptoms including body aches and pains and headaches.
What do seniors do if they think they have COVID-19?
The first thing anyone should do, seniors or otherwise, is to call their physician or healthcare provider. They will help determine whether your symptoms warrant a test and whether you should go to the hospital to seek additional help. If the symptoms are dire, it’s best to seek immediate medical attention.
If a senior’s family member has COVID-19, what should they do?
If you haven’t been in contact with your family member, it’s important that they quarantine themselves and stay away for a minimum of two weeks to avoid infecting their senior family members. For seniors living with a family member who has COVID-19, the best option is to self-quarantine for 14 days. Seniors may also want to consider finding a place to stay if anyone they live with still has to go to work or is regularly among large crowds.
How can seniors prepare their house and prevent getting infected?
There are a lot of important things seniors should do to prepare themselves for the coming weeks:
- Stock up on both perishable and nonperishable food items, ideally enough for 2-4 weeks at a time, if possible. Some ideas include:
- Canned soups
- Beans and other canned vegetables
- Rice, pasta, and other grains
- Dried meats
- Purchase other household items, including paper towels, toilet paper, cleaning supplies, pet food, etc.
- Stock up on first aid items and medications, particularly Tylenol (not Advil or other NSAIDs), cough medicine, and any prescribed medications
- Avoid having company over, particularly those who aren’t practicing social distancing or are still working outside of the home
- Make sure to clean and disinfect the home often, especially surfaces that may have been touched by someone who is sick
- Keep hand soap and hand sanitizer on-hand, and use them often
- Have contingency plans with family members or caregivers, specifically if they get sick and can’t help out
- Ensure your general emergency supplies, such as flashlights, batteries, portable chargers, and generators, are working properly
With the recommendation to avoid going out, how can seniors get supplies, medicines, and other needs?
Seniors can become extremely concerned about leaving the house for simple errands to get groceries, medicine, and other necessary supplies. There are many ways seniors can get what they need and still protect themselves from COVID-19:
- Find out if a local grocery store is blocking off specific hours for seniors and others with high-risk conditions. Some that have begun this include Dollar General, Safeway, Giant, Acme, Target, and Whole Foods. A running list can be found here
- Use grocery and meal delivery services, including Amazon Fresh, Door Dash, Instacart, and Uber Eats. Many of these apps have waived fees. Some stores such as Walmart also deliver.
- Many pharmacies will also deliver – find out if your local pharmacy can bring medications you need. Some that do include CVS, Walgreens, and others
- Have family, caregivers, neighbors, or friends help get groceries and other items needed – this is the best time to ask for help!
If seniors live on their own, how can they ensure their safety when they are sick?
Beyond preventing infection with the novel coronavirus, it’s vital seniors remain healthy and safe from the typical dangers they face. Recently, a senior fell and had to go to a nursing home for rehab. There, he contracted the coronavirus, and has been in insolation since. Falls can be dangerous on their own, but with the threat of the coronavirus looming in hospitals and other healthcare facilities, they can be an even greater danger to seniors.
For many seniors, medical alert systems can be life-saving tools, and can even help them in non-emergency situations. Families can also monitor their seniors easily with GPS tracking. The systems can also provide updates to caregivers on the senior’s health. They are a great every-day tool for those living on their own, and can provide even greater comfort during this time of uncertainty.
A benefit of medical alert systems, particularly during this COVID-19 crisis, is that they are easily self-installed. It’s as simple as plugging it in while speaking with the medical alert provider on the phone to activate. This prevents additional visitors from entering the home and potentially exposing seniors to the coronavirus. There are many good companies to choose from, and seniors can compare them here to find the right system for them.
Are there other things for seniors to keep in mind during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Because of the strict nature of social distancing, feelings of isolation and loneliness during this pandemic can be overwhelming. Seniors should use technology to their advantage during this time. FaceTime, texting, phone calls and conference calls using apps like Zoom can be ways to interact with others to stay positive and connected. Isolating with a very small number of responsible people can be helpful, and even apps or devices such as medical alert systems can help seniors, caregivers, and loved ones remain in contact for both practical and social reasons.
iDeal comparison is here for you, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic. We are taking the well-being of everyone we interact with, both customers and team members, seriously, and are committed to providing the best information about products and services, and your safety.
For more information about social distancing, best practices, and ways to prevent spread or treat symptoms of COVID-19, visit www.coronavirus.gov. For more helpful information about seniors’ safety, health and well-being, visit us here.