Why Social Distancing Is Essential for Seniors

By now, everyone is aware of social distancing, which is in effect. Staying home as much as possible, washing your hands often and keeping at least six feet away from other people is essential. But what should you be concerned about as a senior during the coronavirus pandemic? 

What you need to know about the virus

The first thing to understand is the coronavirus is more contagious and severe than the flu. Don’t panic, but do take it seriously. If you become sick, self-quarantine, stay home and call your doctor.

Everyone can become sick, regardless of age. But, if you have an  immune system which is compromised, or are elderly, you are in the high-risk area. If you have an underlying condition, you need to try to stay home. Avoid small gatherings in a tight space and large groups in a crowd. Practice social distancing of at least six-feet between you and another person if you don’t live with them.

You must avoid touching your face and wash your hands frequently with hot water and soap for at least 20 seconds. You can use hand sanitizer if you can’t get to soap and water. If you have to cough, cough into your sleeve, wash your hands after you cough, and don’t touch your face. 

The items you touch frequently, such as TV remotes, door handles, phones and computers be such to sterilize. This is your first defense.

What else can you do?

Going outside is permitted, at this point, so going for a walk is fine. It’s probably one of the most essential things to do to build up your strength and endurance. Go for a walk as often as you can during the day.

If you need to go to the grocery store, shop during the senior hours that many stores have opened for seniors. It’s a way to be safer since there will be fewer people in the store. Plus, most stores have spent the night cleaning, so the building will be freshly sanitized. Also, many stores are putting had to get items like toilet paper and paper products out at this time, especially for seniors.

To overcome isolation 

One concern about seniors is the sense of isolation you could be experiencing. With the regular avenues of socialization closed, like senior centers or churches, it’s essential to still have a social life.

If you’re social media savvy, Facetime your family and friends. There is also Skype and sites on Google for older people to meet other people. If not, call people you want to talk with to pass the time. 

You can take this time to work on hobbies or take on online class. AARP has a great guide to online learning. You can finally have the time to learn something you’ve always wanted to learn.

Have a plan in place for sickness

You need to have some type of a plan in place in case you do become sick. Thinking about this before you get any symptoms or find out you have the virus is essential. If you’re over eighty or have lung or heart disease, the outcome of a severe coronavirus infection isn’t good.

Decide if you become severely ill if you want to go to the hospital or stay at home and have hospice. 

Handling the anxiety

If you are concerned about the anxiety that the news brings about the coronavirus, cut down your exposure time. If you cut back to watching a trusted source once or twice a day, it will be better for your mental health. If you become too stressed out, talk to your doctor about it.

Gregg Balbera is the president of Right at Home of Nassau Suffolk.

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