A new disease recently erupted in Wuhan, China, and the outbreak has already affected people in the United States. Coronavirus disease 19 is also known as Covid-19. The novel (new) coronavirus causes respiratory illness in people exposed to it. Protecting vulnerable individuals, like seniors, is vital.
What is Covid-19?
Coronaviruses in general are composed of a large family of viruses and are commonly found throughout the world. Newer coronaviruses, such as SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) are the cause of severe respiratory illnesses in some people.
Covid-19 is the newest disease caused by the coronavirus and has not yet been fully understood. However, some facts are known, such as the virus spreads via person-to-person contact. People who are in close contact (within six feet of one another) are susceptible to the ill effects of the virus.
People may also catch Covid-19 when in contact with infected surfaces and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. However, some medical experts claim this is not a primary way for the virus to spread. Infected people who cough or sneeze can spread the virus through their respiratory droplets.
How many people has it affected?
As of early March 2020, the United States has seen 99 total cases of Covid-19. Out of these 99 affected individuals, 10 deaths have occurred. In Illinois, three people have been confirmed to have the virus based on test results.
Covid-19 seems to be highly contagious, since the virus has spread easily in communities. Some infected people do not know how or where they became infected, especially since they have not traveled internationally or come in contact with an infected person.
What are symptoms of Covid-19?
People begin to show symptoms of Covid-19 approximately 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus. They exhibit symptoms, such as fever, cough and shortness of breath. Symptoms are more likely to appear in people who have been in contact with a person infected with the virus.
Based on data from China, about 80 percent of people infected with Covid-19 recover without major medical intervention. However, seniors are a high-risk population, making them susceptible to serious illness. According to statistics, about 10 to 15 percent of infected people become severely ill.
Can seniors be vaccinated?
Without an existing vaccine, Covid-19 currently cannot be prevented. Researchers estimate a vaccine will not be developed for at least a year, since the process is highly regulated, time consuming and intensive. Testing vaccines in the early stages must be done to ensure they are safe for people.
How can families prevent Covid-19 in the elderly?
The most effective way for seniors to keep the illness at bay is to prevent exposure to the virus that causes Covid-19. An everyday preventative action includes avoiding being in close contact with people who are already sick. Seniors should also refrain from touching their eyes, mouth and nose.
Frequent hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is advised. Seniors should wash their hands after using the restroom, prior to eating and after sneezing, blowing one’s nose or coughing. Hands that show visible dirt should be immediately washed with soap and water.
Caregivers should maintain a sterile environment. Objects and surfaces that are handled frequently should be disinfected and cleaned often. Using regular household cleaning sprays and wipes is efficient. Alcohol-based sanitizers should be readily available when soap and water are not on hand.
Since seniors are high risk, they should consult their healthcare provider prior to attending large gatherings. For events that have been paid for, event facilitators are likely to provide refunds to event participants who are especially susceptible; or, facilitators may offer alternative viewing options.
How do families protect seniors who are ill?
If the senior is sick, families should try to keep their elderly loved one at home. Unless receiving medical care, those who are ill are advised to restrict activities outside of the home. Additionally, experts recommend that infected seniors remain in a specific room, away from others in the home.
Older people should avoid mass crowds, such as sporting events. Elderly individuals who begin to display symptoms of Covid-19, such as fever, shortness of breath and cough, are advised to leave the event. Medical treatment at the emergency room or doctor’s office should be sought immediately.
Seniors who are in long-term care facilities should be protected from Covid-19. Elderly residents who show signs of acute respiratory illness and fever should be restricted to their rooms. Seniors must wear face masks (to contain coughs) when they leave the room for medical procedures.
Is an actionable plan necessary?
Based on early data, older people and those with existing health issues are at a greater risk for more serious consequences of the disease. Experts recommend that caregivers and family members create an action plan in case a member of the household gets sick.
People with an increased risk for complications from Covid-19 should consult their medical practitioner for advice on how to monitor symptoms that suggest the presence of Covid-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will recommend actions to keep community members healthy.
How Assisting Hands Home Care can help?
Your elderly loved one needs to be protected from Covid-19. Taking the above steps helps to safeguard their health. Assisting Hands Home Care, a well-respected senior home care agency in the Naperville, Illinois, area, is also prepared to help keep the senior in your life safe and healthy.
Our professional caregivers are instrumental in helping our care recipients with all the activities of daily living, from transportation to doctor’s offices to bathing to meal preparation. We also keep your loved one’s home clean to ensure viruses do not have a chance to spread.
Families turn to Assisting Hands Home Care for the most compassionate, non-medical home care services in Napervile, Wheaton, Glen Ellyn IL and surrounding areas. A friendly representative will start the caregiving process by evaluating your loved one’s care needs and creating a flexible care plan. Consult us for the best in respite care, 24-hour home care and live-in care.