10 Tips for Seniors and Other High-risk Groups
While everyone needs to do their part to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), extra attention needs to be paid to helping those at higher risk for more serious complications from the virus. High-risk groups include:
- People 65 years old and older
- People living in a nursing home or long-term care facility
- People with high-risk conditions, including:
- People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
- People who have heart disease with complications
- People who are immunocompromised, including cancer treatment
- People of any age with severe obesity (body mass index [BMI]) ≥40) or certain underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, such as people with diabetes, renal failure, or liver disease
- People who are immunocompromised due to a range of conditions, including cancer treatment, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications
While to date data on COVID-19 has not shown increased risks with pregnancy, pregnant women should also be monitored since they are known to be at risk with severe viral illness.
What can we do? First, don’t panic. The best thing we can do is stay informed and follow advice from health officials. To help, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has published information on ways to protect yourself and your loved ones from this virus.
Following the CDC’s guidelines, here are 10 tips for seniors and other high-risk individuals who need to be vigilant in caring for their health during this COVID-19 outbreak:
- Stay home as much as possible. Reduce your risk of being exposed by staying home as much as possible. Look into delivery services for things like groceries and medications.
- Reduce your risk of getting sick. If you must go out in public for an essential activity, take extra measures to put distance between yourself and other people to further reduce your risk of being exposed to this new virus.
- Practice good hand hygiene. Wash your hands often, and for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. Use a hand sanitizer gel (that contains at least 60% alcohol) if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid travel. During this outbreak, the CDC recommends not taking cruises. It also recommends not traveling via air, if you can avoid it.
- Contact your healthcare provider to ask about obtaining extra necessary medications to have on hand in case there is an outbreak of COVID-19 in your community and you need to stay home for a prolonged period of time.
- Be sure you have over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies (tissues, etc.) to treat fever and other symptoms. Most people will be able to recover from COVID-19 at home.
- Clean and disinfect your home. Practice routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces like tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks and cell phones.
- Stay in touch with others by phone or email. You may need to ask for help from friends, family, or neighbors if you become sick.
- Monitor your health closely, and pay attention to signs and symptoms of COVID-19. This can include fever, cough, or shortness of breath. If you feel like you are developing symptoms, call your doctor.
- Get immediate medical attention if you develop emergency warning signs. For high-risk groups, these signs can include difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, confusion or problems waking up.
Since this is a new disease, we are continually learning more about it and recommendations for safeguards against the virus may change. Please continue to look to the Texas Health Coronavirus Response and the CDC for updates and information.
For more information on steps you can take to protect yourself and loved ones at a higher risk, visit the CDC’s How to Protect Yourself. Concerned an older adult or at-risk loved one may have coronavirus? Call the Texas Health Coronavirus Hotline 24×7 at 682-236-7601 to speak with a nurse.