Caring for Loved Ones with COVID-19

doctor wearing face shield and PPE suit
As is the case with the rest of the country, COVID-19 has had quite an impact on Colorado: As of early March, the state’s population had developed over 429,000 cases, resulting in nearly 6,000 deaths. Because they are a vulnerable population, seniors and elderly in-home care providers can benefit from knowing the signs and symptoms of COVID-19, what to do and what not to do, and precautionary measures that can be taken. That’s why our senior living home care agency has put together this guide.

Signs and Symptoms

Senior home care recipients and providers should know that the coronavirus can lead to a variety of symptoms, including coughing, trouble breathing, and chills or fever. People may also experience fatigue and headaches, a sore throat, and a congested or runny nose. Diarrhea and nausea may result as well. Additional signs include vomiting and an inability to taste or smell. Keep in mind that symptoms may vary in intensity—and some people may not develop symptoms at all, despite carrying the virus.

What to Do

If an elderly person develops symptoms of the virus, the CDC recommends making contact with his or her health care provider within a day. When symptoms point to an emergency, the timeline becomes even more urgent: It is important to “seek emergency care immediately” by calling 911. Symptoms that indicate an emergency include confusion, difficulty with breathing and staying awake, and continual chest pain. Another emergency signal is if the nail beds, lips, or skin become gray, blue, or more pale than usual.

What Not to Do

If COVID-19 is suspected, the patient should not venture out unless it is to travel to receive medical care. To the extent possible, if remaining at home, the elderly person should not make close contact with others. Another elderly care best practice to not share household items like glasses and bedding. Additionally, do not discontinue mask usage and other precautionary measures (covered next), even if a person is “already” infected.

Precautionary Measures
At-risk elderly individuals and their caretakers have several precautionary measures available. Masks are recommended, as is frequent hand washing. Additionally, visitors should be kept to a minimum if not avoided entirely. Social distancing is important as well. And when vaccines become available, both the elderly and their caretakers will benefit from vaccination.

An online search can give you more details about vaccine availability. Different areas are in different stages and are using different methods of distribution; for example, this page has info on vaccine rollout in Colorado Springs and the surrounding area.
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