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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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Why the Flu Shot is Especially Important This Year

Monday , August 31 , 2020

Why the Flu Shot is Especially Important This Year

This autumn, doctors and healthcare systems will be dealing with two circulating viruses: the novel coronavirus and influenza.

It’s fair to say that flu season is going to look a lot different as the country struggles to control a coronavirus pandemic that has already killed more than 191,000 people.

Many Americans are reluctant to visit a doctor’s office or even to walk into a pharmacy for fear of being exposed to germs – but by getting the flu shot, you can effectively help doctors take one problem off the table.

What is Influenza?

Although sometimes thought of as “just a bad cold,” the flu kills tens of thousands of people in the U.S. every year. Often, the very young, the elderly, and those with underlying conditions are the most vulnerable.

Symptoms include fever, chills, muscle aches, cough, congestion, runny nose, headaches, and fatigue. In more serious cases, severe dehydration, chest pressure, and shortness of breath may occur.

When coupled with the effects of Covid-19, experts say the flu could be more dangerous than ever.

A Flu Vaccine is the Best Protection Against Flu 

The power of the flu vaccine is twofold.

According to the Henry Ford Health System, if enough young, healthy people get vaccinated, they can help protect high-risk groups through something called “herd immunity.” In layman’s terms, the more people that get the flu shot, the less likely the virus is to be transmitted to others.

For those that are high-risk themselves, the flu shot is even more important. The CDC says this is especially true for adults aged 65 and older, who account for most hospitalizations and deaths from the flu each year. Because of immune system changes as we age, older adults are far more likely to experience severe flu complications compared with a younger population – and a flu shot provides the best protection.

When Should I Get My Flu Shot?

Advertising has already begun and most pharmacies already have their flu vaccines in stock, however it’s not necessary to rush out and get your shot just yet. Generally, influenza viruses start circulating in mid- to late October, but don’t reach their peak until later in the winter.

Because it takes about two weeks to build up antibodies after receiving a vaccine, the CDC recommends that older adults get the shot by the end of October.

How Effective is the Flu Shot?

Flu vaccines are developed anew each year because influenza viruses mutate. Because of this, the flu shot ranges in effectiveness each year, depending on how well scientists matched the circulating strain. Last year’s shot, for example, was estimated to be about 45% effective in preventing the flu overall.

It isn’t yet know how effective this year’s flu vaccine will be, however with people practicing social distancing and wearing masks, flu cases are expected to be fewer overall.

It is important to note, as well, that even if you still get the flu, your illness is likely to be less lengthy and severe if you have received the vaccine beforehand.

Bottom Line

Flu shots help protect you against getting the flu and make you less likely to spread it to others. By staying healthy, you’ll help keep hospitals and medical facilities from becoming overwhelmed during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Posted in: Health

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