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Gathering Safely for the Holidays

Monday , November 2 , 2020

Gathering Safely for the Holidays

The holiday season is upon us! With Thanksgiving and a slew of other holidays right around the corner, you may be wondering, “How can I safely visit my family and friends?”

Experts say think small. During the worst pandemic in a century, things will look a bit different this year.

So how do you plan a special celebration during such a challenging time? Keep reading to learn more:

Plan for smaller holiday gatherings 

The best advice experts can offer at this time is stay at home whenever possible. Plan for a family Zoom call, an online game night, or even a holiday drive-by in your car.

But if you absolutely must see your loved ones in person, keep it small.

The CDC tips for a safe holiday gathering include:

  • Limit the number of attendees as much as possible to allow people from different households to remain at least 6 feet apart at all times. Guests should avoid direct contact, including handshakes and hugs, with others not from their household.
  • Avoid holding gatherings in crowded, poorly ventilated spaces with persons who are not in your household.
  • Increase ventilation by opening windows and doors to the extent that is safe and feasible based on the weather, or by placing central air and heating on continuous circulation.
  • Require guests to wear masks. At gatherings that include persons of different households, everyone should always wear a mask that covers both the mouth and nose, except when eating or drinking.
  • Plan ahead and ask guests to avoid contact with people outside of their households for 14 days before the gathering.

Large gatherings make it too difficult to enforce rules and maintain social distancing. Unless you want your holiday party to become the next super spreader event, keep it to a minimum!

Opt Outside

Even better? If you want to meet up with a group of people who don’t live in your household, gather outside!

It may be cold out in the coming weeks, but that’s nothing that can’t be overcome. Dress in layers, add a hat and gloves, and bring a blanket to cover your lap. You can even gather around an outdoor fireplace or patio heater, as long as you maintain social distancing and wear masks.

If weather forces you into a tent or pop-up shelter, consider keeping one side open for ventilation.

To keep food as safe as possible, encourage guests to “B.Y.O.M” (bring your own meat) and cook it over the grill or fire.

Protect Yourself and Others

No matter how you gather, remember: Safety first. The holidays are not the time to start ignoring the safety protocol you’ve observed for the rest of the year.

Remind guests to:

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Wear a mask and maintain a six-foot distance from people outside your household
  • Avoid handshakes, hugs, and even elbow bumps
  • Stay home if you are sick

Keep in mind that you are not obligated to gather with anyone. If you receive any invitations that make you even the tiniest bit uncomfortable, exercise your right to say “no.”

Who Should Avoid Gatherings? 

According to the CDC, the following people should avoid all gatherings this holiday season. Anyone who:

  • Has or was exposed to Covid-19
  • Has been diagnosed with Covid-19 and has not met the criteria for when it is safe to be around others
  • Has symptoms associated with Covid-19
  • Is waiting for Covid-19 test results
  • Is at increased risk of severe illness from Covid-19

Final Thoughts 

If you are an older adult or person whose medical conditions leave you at greater risk of severe infection, you should avoid ALL in-person gatherings.

If you are celebrating with friends and loved ones, help drive infection rates down! Wear a mask, wash hands, practice social distancing, and avoid large groups.

Have a safe and healthy holiday season!

Posted in: Health

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Preventing the Spread of Covid-19 During Winter Months

Monday , October 19 , 2020

Preventing the Spread of Covid-19 During Winter Months

As we near winter in North America where the Covid-19 pandemic is still raging, one thing has become glaringly obvious: Cold weather will make things much, much worse.

Historically, viruses like the seasonal flu peak during the late fall and winter months (last year in the U.S., there were 40 times more cases in the fall and winter than during the spring and summer). If Covid-19 follows the same pattern, we could be facing at least another 300,000 deaths in the U.S. in coming months.

Though these numbers are scary, there are several steps you can take to help protect yourself and others during the coming months.

Keep reading for some simple tips and tricks:

 

Prevent Getting Sick

Covid-19 is thought to spread person-to-person, mainly through respiratory droplets in the air. Unfortunately, the dry winter atmosphere makes it possible for those droplets to remain in the air for longer periods of time – even after the sick individual has left the room.

The best way to avoid getting ill is to stay in your home and limit face-to-face interactions with other people as much as possible. Since that is not always feasible, help keep yourself safe by following these simple precautions from the CDC:

  •  Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid close contact with other people, even inside your home. A distance of at least six feet (about two arms-length) is suggested.
  • Wear a face mask when in public and around others who are not a part of your household. Continue to keep a six-foot distance between yourself and others, even when wearing a mask.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the crook of your elbow. Immediately wash your hands after coughing or sneezing.
  • Minimize social gatherings – Stay connected with friends and family who don’t live in your home by calling, using video chat, or interacting on social media.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces (phones, doorknobs, light switches, etc.) daily with soap and water and then an approved disinfectant.
  • Get a flu shot to help save health resources for those infected with Covid-19 and to help protect yourself from the seasonal flu.

Beware “Covid Fatigue”

As we near our second year of the pandemic, many people feel like they have “done enough” to protect themselves from the virus. They’ve spent months social distancing, wearing a mask, and working from home. And they’re tired of it.

Officials are dubbing this phenomenon “Covid Fatigue” – and they’re warning the public to remain vigilant.

Dr. Claude Mellins, a medical psychologist at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, says that it’s important to keep in mind that this isn’t forever. “We’re gonna get through this,” she said. “That’s the first message of any disaster. It doesn’t mean we’re not going to be unchanged, but we will get through it.”

As we try to navigate the next few months, it’s important to keep Dr. Mellins words in mind. Getting through this winter certainly won’t be easy, but knowing there is an end in site will make it more bearable.

Stay safe and keep healthy.

Posted in: Aging

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Is In-home Care the Better Choice Post Covid-19?

Tuesday , September 15 , 2020

Is In-home Care the Better Choice Post Covid-19?

According to the California Healthcare Foundation, more than 40% of Covid-19 fatalities so far were nursing home residents or workers. And that number is true across the nation – not just in the Golden State.

Shocked? You shouldn’t be. Despite strict regulations, nursing homes have long struggled with infection control.

The same organization states that “nursing homes are hot spots because they combine numerous risk factors for transmission: congregate living, a mostly elderly population with underlying health conditions, and inadequate staffing, PPE, and infection control for an emergency.”

And the public has taken notice. Healthcare consulting firm Transcend Strategy Group recently surveyed 1,000 family healthcare decision-makers across the country and found that two-thirds of respondents say they plan to use in-home care rather than facility-based care in the future.

Among those surveyed, 65% said Covid-19 has changed their opinions about how to best care for older adults, while 68% said they don’t believe that quality care can be provided in congregate settings.

We’ve put together a brief overview of in-home care, so you can make your own decision. Keep reading to learn more:

Aging in Place 

Maya Angelou said, “The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”

There is no time this is truer, perhaps, than as we enter old age. According to the AARP, three out of four adults say they want to age in place, even if they need help with day-to-day activities.

Many seniors fear dying alone in a nursing home, surrounded by people they don’t know. When the time comes, they’d prefer to be at home, in an environment that feels safe and in the company of those they love.

The Benefits of In-Home Care 

Home care can provide a variety of benefits for older adults who choose to age in place. Among the most important advantages is assistance with activities of daily living, including help with cooking, cleaning, and even bathing. Here are some other pluses you may be unaware of:

  • It may seem obvious, but in-home care allows seniors the opportunity to age in place among their friends, family, and those they care about most. This can directly contribute to better mental and physical health as they age.
  • Older adults who age in place feel a greater sense of freedom and the independence to live life on their own terms.
  • In-home care providers can perform a wide variety of services, from help with daily activities to round-the-clock care.
  • Home care professionals can provide family caregivers with peace of mind that their loved one is safe and secure while they go to work or tend to other duties.
  • Older adults who have had surgery or have been hospitalized for an illness face a lesser risk of falls when recovering at home. Home care can also reduce the risk of hospital readmission.
  • If your older loved one has specific medical needs, in-home nurses can provide skilled treatment, including wound care, intravenous infusions, and tracheostomy management.
  • With in-home care and the rise of wearable technology, older adults can now receive continuous monitoring from the comfort of their own homes.
  • Much more.

Of course, there are cases where an assisted living facility is the only option – and there are pros and cons to both in-home care and living in a nursing home. One of the biggest considerations should be the health needs of your older loved one. Remember to involve them in the decision-making process and do your research.

Posted in: Home Care

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