It's a very scary time. This pandemic, spreading worldwide from a previously unknown bug, puts everyone at risk.
Of course older adults (along with those with disabilities at any age) are designated as being especially vulnerable. While reliable sources emphasize that 80% of cases are NOT deadly, who wants to take chances with any bug? Let's remember, flu is still deadly.
That means it really pays to take the same safety precautions used to avoid flu...just be even more prudent. The CDC has a page with specific checkpoints directed towards older adults. And while "senior" tends to designate those 65 and older, I urge even those in the 50-64 age range to be just as careful. After all, stats show this is the segment that starts developing chronic conditions that can put one in danger, like diabetes, COPD, and high blood pressure.
Here are some of the CDC's pointers. (I've added additional details where needed.):
A lot of warnings are about being outside, but even within your own home you need to get used to certain practices. These are especially true IF you go out...and let's face it, some trips may be needed, like going to the doctor and doing some shopping.
So at home institute these new traditions:
Wash your hands often, for at least 20 seconds. It's a good practice to start so you're used to it when you do go outside. (Or someone else comes in.) Don't touch stuff in the house 'til you've washed.
Make sure you have one or more bottles of hand sanitizer. I actually have several throughout the house; e.g., in the kitchen, each bathroom and my office. And I got a smaller refillable bottle that I can carry in my purse or a pocket when I go out.
Use proper sanitizing agents in different areas of the house; e.g., to clean kitchen sink and appliances, toilet cleaners, faucets and sink handles, etc.
Besides ready-made sanitizers, you can more inexpensively make your own. For a full gallon, CDC says mix ⅓ cup bleach with a gallon of water. For smaller solutions, mix three teaspoons bleach with a quart of water.
Whenever cleaning, make sure to use disposable gloves. (Boxes of these are extremely important to stock up, but not mentioned too much yet, so consider this my most important "hint.")
Keep rugs and carpets as clean as possible. If you can't pull down blinds and drapes to clean, at least vacuum them carefully and more often than normal. Think of spring cleaning; we're right on time, yes? You may have to do it more frequently through summer, and fall....and oh well.
Caring for a loved one
If anyone does become ill and is staying at home (and with a potential overload of hospitals, this may be necessary), there are special precautions:
Try to bed your loved one in a separate bed and, even better, a separate room.
When changing linens, wear disposable gloves. If you've run out, make sure to wash your hands immediately after touching your loved one, their clothes, linens, etc.
Wash the linens and your loved one's clothing in water as warm as possible.
Your loved one should eat where they're sleeping, though at a table rather than in bed if possible. If plates and utensils are disposables, make sure they're properly tossed. Otherwise you may want to hand wash them in hot water and hand dry (with dish gloves on!), keeping them out of the dishwasher.
Wherever your loved one is using a toilet and bathing, clean before anyone else uses it, especially if that's the only bathroom you have.
Watch whose words you rely on
There's so much more advice out there. From the CDC alone, you can find advice for lots of at-home and outside protections. Otherwise ALWAYS make sure you're using reliable sources. The NIH, HHS (Health & Human Services), the American Heart Association, the Mayo Clinic...it's places like these that you know you can rely on for solid information.
Do NOT rely on things your best friend, third cousin twice removed, or unknown social media postings tell you. I trust you've seen my name and credentials around enough to rely on me, but I won't be insulted if you go to the link I gave above and other places I just mentioned.
Best safety wishes to all our seniors and their loved ones.