How to minimise COVID-19 risks for older adults

New Delhi, April 12 (IANS) While India is continuously ramping up its efforts to combat COVID-19, it is a must for citizens to inculcate self-protection measures against the dreaded virus.
“One must adhere to basic hygiene practices to curb the spread of infection. While regular hand washing for up to 20 seconds, along with following social distancing protocols is ideal in such a situation, it is also important to keep the surroundings sanitized, especially if you’re living with an older adult,” says Dr Sandeep Patil, Chief Intensivist and Physician, Fortis Hospital, Kalyan.
Adding, “Older individuals are bound to ultimately experience several health issues. However, research suggests that an older adult and those with severe chronic medical conditions or comorbidities such as Heart, Lung or Kidney disease, Diabetes, COPD and Hypertension are at twofold risk to be seriously infected with COVID-19, if exposed to the virus. Even if one is staying indoors, it is imperative to ensure the safety and care of individuals in these age group, who usually have compromised immune systems.”

Here are a few essential and easy steps one can follow for sanitisation and hygiene purposes:

1. Keep away from any risk: In order to prevent the risk of infection in an older adult, as a caregiver, your prime focus should include precautionary measures of self- protection; which includes frequent and thorough washing of hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is to be followed prior to food preparation, post handling of items, laundry as well as using the bathroom..
Make sure to wash your hands to efficiently keep infection at bay If you have stepped outside of the house, take a bath on your return. Keep a sanitizer in hand and use at regular intervals

2. Use bed spreads; if possible, change the bed sheets and pillow cases once every three-four days. Wash bed sheets and pillows in hot water, preferably separately from the rest of the family’s bedding.

3. Keep the room well ventilated during the day for air circulation, and allow cross ventilation.

4. Keep food and snacks out of bedrooms, as crumbs attract bacteria

5. Ensure to clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces- walker, canes, as well as medical equipment.

6. Practice daily change of clothes, ensure that the elderly wear freshly washed clothes every time they change Their clothes must be washed meticulously with a detergent, preferably in a washing machine If possible, wash laundry with warm water which will aid in killing the germs and make sure they are thoroughly dried in a dryer before being worn again — you can also sun dry their clothes. Do not mix your clothes with those of the elderly while washing.

7. While cleaning the bathroom and toilet, use a disinfectant in the bathroom before and after bathing the individual. Ensure the tub, hand rails, sink, shower handles, faucets, etc are all cleaned and rinsed with warm water.

While we take precautions against COVID-19, it is also important to monitor the seasonal flu which has a considerable impact on older adults. Make sure to stay in touch with their doctors through e-consultations to receive the right guidance and precautionary guidelines. Make sure to measure and note their vitals regularly.

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