You can’t turn on the news anymore without hearing updates about the coronavirus, or “COVID-19”, pandemic. Doctors have already discovered that those aged 65-and-above are at higher risk for catching COVID-19, which is certainly alarming for the millions of elderly persons living in the U.S. If you are currently caring for an aging in place elderly family member, taking safety precautions as their caregiver is now more important than ever before. Here are some tips for keeping both you and your loved one protected against the coronavirus.

Coronavirus Facts

Every day, healthcare professionals around the world are learning more about the epidemiology of COVID-19. And thanks to those efforts, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now list these coronavirus facts on their website:

  • Elderly individuals, notably those with underlying conditions like heart disease, lung disease or diabetes, are at higher risk.
  • The virus is thought to spread mainly via person-to-person contact through respiratory droplets that are then inhaled into the mouth and nose of another individual.
  • So far, the best way to protect oneself against coronavirus is by avoiding someone who has it.
  • There is currently no approved vaccine for COVID-19.

How Long Does COVID-19 Survive on Surfaces?

According to a recent article published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, COVID-19 can survive outside a host:

  • For up to 3 hours on air particles
  • For up to 24 hours on paper and cardboard
  • For up to 72 hours on plastic and stainless steel

What Should I Do as a Caregiver?

Elderly individuals are more likely to catch COVID-19 because they typically have a weakened immune system. The best way to protect your loved one is by keeping yourself coronavirus-free, and the CDC provides a lot of good information on how to do so. And, whenever you’re in a senior’s home, take these additional precautions:

Handwashing

Wash your hands on a regular basis for at least 20 seconds. When touching potentially contaminated surfaces, be sure to use hand sanitizer that’s at least 60% alcohol immediately afterwards. Avoid preparing food, eating, or touching your eyes, nose and mouth unless you’ve washed your hands first. And, be sure to remind your loved one to do the same.

Clean & Disinfect

Clean and disinfect furniture, countertops, doorknobs and other exposed surfaces daily around the home with a good antimicrobial product to prevent the spread of viruses, including COVID-19.

Avoid Sick People

If someone you know is sick, avoid them until they’re fully recovered because there’s always the chance that it could be coronavirus.

Cook Food Thoroughly

When preparing meals, be sure to cook all foods thoroughly to kill harmful organisms. Wash your hands before and after handling raw meat or fish, and wipe down your cutting board and countertops with a