How to Explain the Dangers of COVID-19

Covid-19 has spread rapidly throughout communities across the country, infecting people of all ages. High-risk populations, however, tend to be people over the age of 65 and those who suffer from underlying conditions. It is important to explain the dangers of Covid-19 to seniors who are unaware of the risks.

Seniors may not understand the full impact of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. Many medical experts are still trying to study the virus for answers and further realize its effects on human health. What health officials currently know should be explained to seniors.

Step 1: Explain why seniors are most vulnerable

Older people are more susceptible to the ill effects of the coronavirus due to their lowered immunity. Seniors’ immune systems gradually deteriorate as they age, making it more difficult for their bodies to fight off infectious diseases, such as Covid-19.

Immunocompromised individuals, including aging adults, are especially vulnerable to contracting a severe case of Covid-19. Receiving cancer treatments, smoking and organ transplantation can cause a person to become immunocompromised. Extensive use of corticosteroids can also lead to a weakened immune system.

Living with other underlying conditions also hampers an older person’s ability to ward off disease. Such ailments include heart conditions, lung disease, diabetes, liver disease and chronic kidney disease where the individual undergoes dialysis. Aging people who suffer from obesity are also at a higher risk for infection.

Step 2: Describe how Covid-19 could affect aging people

Once family members explain why the coronavirus has more serious effects on the older population, they can start to describe the symptoms to them. Covid-19 is an infectious disease that causes a respiratory tract infection. The disease affects the sinuses, nose, throat, windpipe and lungs.

The virus enters the body through respiratory droplets (such as when a nearby person coughs or sneezes). When the virus gains access to the body (typically after a person touches a contaminated surface and then his mouth, nose or eyes), the virus multiplies and infects neighboring cells.

The infection then spreads to the individual’s respiratory tract. The body’s immune system reacts, and the lungs become swollen and inflamed. Depending on the individual, the response may be mild to moderate, with symptoms such as a dry cough or sore throat, and, in severe cases, pneumonia.

Older people are likely to recall the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) from a few years back. Relatives might explain the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) as being similar to SARS and MERS, which are also coronaviruses.

Step 3: Educate seniors on protective measures

Due to the severe nature of the coronavirus’ impact on aging adults, it is critical that they understand how to protect themselves. Local grocery stores and pharmacies provide dedicated seniors hours, so that this vulnerable population has limited close contact with potentially infected individuals.

Senior citizen hours at Lombard-area grocery stores, like Jewel, are from 7am to 9am, every Tuesday and Thursday, and from 6am to 8am, every day at Mariano’s. Walgreens offers prescription pickup via drive-through, or dedicated senior hours from 8am to 9am, on Tuesdays.

Since the coronavirus is primarily spread through close person-to-person contact, families are urged to explain to seniors that safe social distancing is important during the pandemic. Ordering food and medicines online is one way to practice social distancing and protect oneself.

Lombard’s first responders are always available to conduct wellness checks. Seniors reaching out to elderly neighbors from a safe social distance is recommended. If the individual is unwell and may need help, call 911. Sick people are advised to stay home.

Step 4: Advise of steps to take when illness occurs

Within 2 to 14 days after exposure to the coronavirus, people may develop symptoms, such as a dry cough, fever and shortness of breath. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advises that symptoms may range from mild to severe and could result in death.

Covid-19 emergency signs include bluish lips or face, difficulty breathing, continual pain or pressure in the chest area and sudden confusion. Seniors should seek prompt medical attention if any of these symptoms appear. Additional concerning symptoms require a physician consult.

Seniors who become ill should first contact their primary care physician for an assessment over the phone. The doctor will determine whether testing should be done or whether a public health nurse should be dispatched. Severe illness may require a visit to the emergency room.

Inform seniors that coronavirus disease transmission results in hospitalization for 31 to 70 percent of people 85 and older, admission to an intensive care unit for 11 to 31 percent of adults age 65 to 84 and death for 10 to 27 percent of those 85 and older.

While the novel coronavirus is not yet fully understood, it is important to communicate to seniors the necessity of maintaining social distance with others, practicing frequent handwashing with soap and water and avoiding touching one’s face. These practical steps can prevent infection.

When you live too far away to monitor the health of an elderly loved one during the coronavirus pandemic, consult a reputable home care agency, like Assisting Hands Home Care. Our professional caregivers take steps to keep senior care recipients in good health in the comfort of home.

Our comprehensive care services are non-medical in nature. We assist the elderly with personal care tasks, provide companionship, prepare meals and ensure a safe home environment. Our caregivers also transport seniors to the doctor and help shop for groceries during dedicated senior hours.

We offer a range of flexible senior care services, including 24-hour home care, respite care, live-in care and post-hospitalization care. Assisting Hands Home Care providers are careful to take safety precautions to ensure the well-being of elderly care recipients during the coronavirus outbreak.

Seniors living in the communities surrounding Lombard, Elmhurst, Glendale Heights and Villa Park, Illinois, receive compassionate attention from caregivers at Assisting Hands Home Care. Your loved one will benefit from extra support during this critical time. Start the caregiving process by calling our senior home care agency at (630) 313-6160 for a complimentary in-home assessment.

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