Tips for Caregivers and Seniors During Coronavirus and Flu Concerns

The novel coronavirus is at the top of everyone’s news these days. While it’s important not to panic, it does make sense to stay informed and follow basic tips to protect yourself and those around you. The good news is that the risk of getting coronavirus in the United States is currently low. However, like with the seasonal flu, older adults and those with chronic health conditions are at higher risk of being impacted if the illness does spread.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is monitoring the situation closely and is the best source of information. The CDC is urging individuals to stay calm and use these common-sense tips that could also apply to cold and flu season.

1. Get the flu vaccine

OK, this is directly related to the current novel coronavirus; however, the flu is a larger threat to older Americans and their caregivers. Getting a flu shot reduces the risk of getting the flu. It also reduces the severity of the illness and protects against complications – both especially important for seniors.

And, as a caregiver, when you get a flu shot, you reduce the risk that you’ll get sick and infect your older adult. The best time to get a flu shot is from October through November, but experts say that it’s still useful to get the shot even if it’s later in the flu season.

2. Wash or sanitize hands thoroughly and often

Frequently hand washing with regular soap is an effective way to get rid of cold, flu and coronavirus germs. Using regular soap is fine because rubbing the hands together for at least 20 seconds is what eliminates germs – long enough to sing the Happy Birthday song twice. Make sure to clean under the nails, backs of hands, between fingers, and wrists.

If you can’t get to soap and water often enough, use hand sanitizer to kill cold and flu germs. This may be a good option for older adults who can’t easily get up to wash their hands.

3. Exercise regularly

Moderate exercise boosts the immune system and could reduce risk of illness by a third. Even though caregiving doesn’t leave a lot of time for exercise and older adults may not have a lot of endurance, any amount of regular exercise will benefit the body and immune system.

4. Avoid touching the eyes, nose, and mouth

We often touch our faces without thinking, which is a common way for cold, flu, and yes, coronavirus germs to enter the body. To reduce the risk of getting sick, minimize touching of the face.

5. Clean to eliminate germs

Try to keep the environment as germ-free as possible. That means using disinfectant when cleaning, especially in the bathroom and kitchen. When cleaning, pay special attention to germ hot spots like doorknobs, light switches, and kitchen and bathroom counters.

And, make sure to disinfect cleaning sponges and rags (a breeding ground for germs) by changing them frequently, soaking in bleach, microwaving for 1 minute, or running through the dishwasher.

6. Sanitize your mobile devices

Something that many people forget is how dirty and germ-filled their mobile device is. Clean it regularly with sanitizing wipes or rubbing alcohol – being careful not to wet the electronics.

7. Stay away from people who are sick

It might sound obvious, but it’s worth repeating: keep your distance from people who are sick. If you need to be around a sick person, limit your contact and avoid unnecessary touching like shaking hands or hugging.

Also, try to avoid being in large groups of people, especially in poorly-ventilated spaces. That increases the chance of catching a cold or flu from an infected person. It’s also a good idea to drink plenty of liquids, especially plain water or hot tea. Also, some studies have shown that a little extra Vitamin C (but not too much) can reduce the risk of getting sick. It’s best to get it through food, but a 200 mg supplement also works.

Home Care Associates is here for your caregiving needs, our professionals always maintain a safe and sanitary environment. Contact us today for assistance with your loved one.

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