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Taking Precautions Against Coronavirus for Older Adults

This article will be updated with new information as it becomes available. Last updated 6/3.

People with chronic medical problems, and those over age 65, are at increased risk of getting serious complications from the coronavirus. There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease. Taking preventive actions is the best way to avoid contracting the virus.

Preventive measures include:

  • Staying home as much as possible.
  • Avoiding unnecessary contact with other people (for example, don’t shake hands).
  • Avoiding crowds, especially in poorly ventilated spaces.
  • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (use alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available).
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue.

What to do about upcoming medical appointments

It is still important to take care of any chronic medical problems to prevent them from getting worse. If you have an upcoming appointment, call your doctor in advance to see if your appointment can be done by using telehealth/telemedicine or what additional precautions you may need to take for an in-office visit.

The importance of washing your hands

Hand-washing is one of the easiest ways you can help prevent illness. It is especially important to wash your hands:

  • Before, during, and after preparing food.
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick.
  • After using the bathroom.
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste.

Remember that surfaces, including bathroom fixtures, such as toilet handles and sink faucets, can also transmit infection.

Are you washing your hands correctly? Follow these 5 steps for the most effective hand-washing technique to prevent the spread of germs.

5 steps to washing your hands correctly

  • Wet your hands with clean running water, turn off the water, and apply soap.
  • Rub your hands together with the soap, including the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.
  • Rinse your hands well under clean running water.
  • Dry your hands with a clean towel, or air dry them.

How is it transmitted?

Coronavirus is primarily transmitted by coughing and sneezing by a person infected by the coronavirus. Surfaces touched by someone with the virus may potentially be infected. This is why it is important to wash your hands, use hand sanitizer, and avoid touching your face. In addition, it’s a good idea to avoid shaking hands and minimize your contact with public use surfaces (for example, by lifting the gas pump handle with a paper towel, or using your knuckle instead of your finger to turn off light switches).   

Should I wear a facemask?

While it is best to stay home as much as possible, for times when being in public is unavoidable, such as going to the grocery store, wearing a face mask is recommended. The CDC recommends wearing a cloth face mask in public settings to help slow the spread of the virus and prevent those who may be infected but not realize it from spreading it to others. Surgical masks and N-95 respirators should be saved for first responders and health care workers. This video shows you how to make a simple face covering with material you already have at home: 

Is it ok to travel?

The CDC recommends avoiding nonessential travel. If you need to travel, take the basic prevention precautions listed above.

How to prepare

It’s important to take precautions in advance in case you are required to stay in your home for an extended period of time. General emergency preparedness includes: 

  • Having a supply of food staples, bottled water,  and household supplies like laundry detergent and bathroom items.
  • Making sure you have at least a 30-day supply of your prescription medications and other health supplies on hand, such as pain relievers, stomach remedies, cough and cold medicines, fluids with electrolytes, and vitamins.

For more information

We take the safety and well-being of our community, members, and employees very seriously. Given the coronavirus situation is changing daily, we request that you do not visit our office in person.

For the latest up-to-date information on the coronavirus, please visit the CDC website at cdc.gov/covid19

Healthwise has created a resource center with infographics, articles, and videos on the symptoms, prevention, and treatment of the coronavirus. Click here to access the resource center.

Also, the CDC provided this video with recommendations for older adults:

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