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By Maria Burke, R.N., Celtic Angels Home Health Care

If you are responsible for the care of a loved one right now, there are things you should know and do to protect yourself against contracting the COVID-19 Virus.

As of January, there were more than one million cases of the virus reported in just seven days. That says this virus is still very much present and spreading at extremely rapid speeds. Here’s how it spreads:

People who are physically near (within 6 feet) of a person with COVID-19 or have direct contact with that person.

Exposure to respiratory droplets when a person is in close contact with someone who has COVID-19.

When people with COVID-19 cough, sneeze, sing, talk, or breathe, they produce respiratory droplets. These droplets can range in size from larger droplets (some of which are visible) to smaller droplets. Small droplets can also form particles when they dry very quickly in the airstream.

Respiratory droplets cause infection when they are inhaled or deposited on mucous membranes, such as those that line the inside of the nose and mouth.

As the respiratory droplets travel further from the person with COVID-19, the concentration of these droplets decreases. Larger droplets fall out of the air due to gravity. Smaller droplets and particles spread apart in the air.

With passing time, the amount of infectious virus in respiratory droplets also decreases.

While you’re caring for your loved one, please continue to follow the same basic risk prevention steps you’ve heard and read so much about:

Indoors:

  • Wear protective gear—mask, face shield, gloves and, if possible, full PPE equipment.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water frequently and don’t touch your face, eyes, or mouth.
  • Wash and disinfect all surfaces.
  • Minimize the number of utensils and other items in their home.

Outdoors

  • Wear a mask that fully covers your nose and mouth.
  • Stay at least 6 feet apart from people.
  • Avoid crowds at all cost; remember, the more people you’re exposed to, the more chance you have of being exposed to the virus.
  • Wash your hands many times throughout the day; preferably with soap and water but if that’s not available, use hand sanitizer.

If the person you’re caring for is over 65, they fall into a high-risk category for getting very sick from COVID-19. If they have certain underlying medical conditions, again, they are at a higher risk for getting very sick from the virus.

If you’re loved one that you’re caring for gets sick, you’ll need to take the following steps:

  • Make sure they stay home except to get medical care.
  • Isolate them from you and other members of their family to prevent the spread of the virus. Remember, just because someone doesn’t feel sick doesn’t mean they can’t spread the virus.
  • Seek emergency care if your loved one is showing warning signs like trouble breathing, pain or pressure in their chest.

Getting Tested—visit your state or local health department website for information on COVID-19 testing in your area. If your loved ones are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 call their primary care physician or healthcare provider immediately.

Coping with Stress

As a caregiver to an elderly loved one or senior citizen during a worldwide pandemic, you will probably experience higher levels of stress. Learning new ways to cope with stress can help you through these trying times and keep you healthy.

  • Try one small thing each day to care for yourself.
  • Unwind by doing yoga, listening to music, or going out for a walk.
  • Connect with loved ones, family members and friends.
  • Reach out to the myriad of support groups now available on-line.
  • Drink lots of water or healthy fluids; eat good nutritious foods.
  • Read a good book.
  • Start a new hobby.
  • And most importantly, rest

Pandemics can be stressful, especially when you are caring for someone else and at the same time, staying away from others. During this time, it’s important to maintain social connections and care for your mental health.

About the Author: Maria Burke, RN, Owner, Celtic Angels Home Health Care. Maria Burke was born in Midleton, County Cork, Ireland. She is the eldest of six and immigrated to the United States in 1988 to pursue a nursing degree to become a registered nurse. She served as a visiting nurse and from there, launched her own home health care company. Celtic Angels has two offices; Weymouth and Needham and services hundreds of elderly peo- ple across Massachusetts with a variety of services including skilled nursing, homemaking services and home health aide and CNA care services. ∞

 

 

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