We have all been following the development of the coronavirus, and know that seniors are at a greater risk for serious illness from COVID-19. Plus, if you have any additional medical conditions like autoimmune disorders or cancer, then you know it is critical to take every precaution possible.
The intent of this article is to help give you the tools you need to weather this storm as best as you can. We know that this is a very scary and overwhelming situation, and sometimes it is hard to know what you should do and where to start.
Many of the broadcasts are encouraging people to practice social distancing, self-imposed isolation, to stay healthy and slow the progress of COVID-19. However, we are also hearing that we should be going out to stock up on supplies, which is hard to do both since they are opposites.
So below, we have put together a list of the top 10 things you can do to decrease your exposure to COVID-19. Though we know COVID-19 will impact many of us, it is our hope we can aid in any way possible to reduce the spread and severity of the coronavirus.
Top 7 Things Seniors Can Do
- Avoid Unnecessary Travel
- Keep Groceries and Supplies on Hand
- Ensure You Have Enough Medications at Home
- Eat a Healthy Diet
- Stay Active
- Practice Social Distancing
- Stay in Touch with Loved Ones
Avoid Unnecessary Travel
Retirement often goes hand in hand with travel, and why not? We’ve earned it!
However, during the coronavirus outbreak, it is best to avoid travel. It does not matter if you are thinking of going by car, boat, or plane, it is best to postpone your plans.
It is especially vital to avoid vacationing on cruise ships. Most major cruise lines have shut down for a period due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, the CDC warns that riverboat vacations are equally risky as major ocean cruises and should also be avoided.
If you have booked your vacation on any boat, call to reschedule or cancel your reservations. Many of the cruises are offering full refunds, and some are even offering 150% credit for future cruises up to 12/31/2022.
Though most airlines are not giving refunds, many are allowing changes to travel schedules without any additional fees. Change charges for airlines are usually $200+.
Before the COVID-19 outbreak, the majority of hotels allowed cancellations up to a specific date before arrival without penalty.
However, it seems the latest and greatest deals offered by hotels are the pay in advance discounted rates, that unfortunately are non-refundable.
Thankfully, numerous hotels have been evolving their cancellation policies as COVID-19 has progressed. Many hotels were restricting their refunds on non-refundable rooms based on the cities, but today most hotels have set up a policy to aid all of their potential guests.
So if you were concerned about incurring fees for changing your travel plans, most travel companies have put policies in place to help keep their customers happy and healthy.
There is no vacation worth risking your health, especially when all of the travel companies are working to accommodate your needs during the COVID-19 pandemic
Keep Groceries and Supplies on Hand
Having a couple of week’s of groceries on hand will keep you from needing to venture out with the crowds.
And when you do need additional groceries or supplies, it is safest to use a delivery service. Many of the grocery services are offering free delivery during this time.
If you are tired of cooking for yourself or don’t enjoy cooking, you can always take advantage of different meal delivery options like Home Chef or Freshology. Most of the services offer food options for special dietary needs such as low-sugar or gluten-free.
If you do opt for food delivery services, you should indicate you would like them to leave it at the door to minimize contact with the delivery person. Remember reducing your contact with others during this pandemic is vital to staying healthy.
Also, it is not just grocery stores that are offering free delivery services. Even some hardware stores have that as an option too. And if you are stuck home, why not take care of some of those pesky home projects you might have been putting off?
Besides the food, the CDC recommends you have the proper day to day and cleaning supplies on hand. The American Chemistry Council has provided a list of approved cleaning products that fight the spread of COVID-19, be sure to check out this site and pick up one or two of the products to have on hand.
Ensure You Have Enough Medications at Home
Equally as important as food, medications are critical to have available at home. Many doctors are willing to give three month supply options on various medications, reducing your need to pick up your prescriptions every month.
In addition to your prescription medications, the CDC recommends you have some over the counter medications at home in the event someone in the household becomes ill. Pick up items such as:
- Pain relievers like acetaminophen
- Cold and flu medicine
It is best to keep medicine and medical supplies on hand so that you can start treating symptoms as soon as they appear. The CDC believes that most cases of the COVID-19 will be able to be successfully managed at home.
And the great news is many pharmacies are teaming up with delivery services to provide free overnight shipping on medications. Again whenever you can avoid leaving your home during this critical time will only aid in decreasing your chances of coming in contact with COVID-19.
Eat a Healthy Diet
One of the things we can do to aid in ensuring good health, not just during stressful times like now, is to eat healthily. The foods we choose to fuel our bodies matter.
Making healthy food choices such as reducing unhealthy fats and sugars from our diets can make a huge difference in our overall health. Plus, adding specific foods that we know have beneficial properties, like:
- Pineapple – Anti-inflammatory
- Blueberries and spinach – Great sources of fiber and full of antioxidants to boost our immune system
- Salmon – Rich in fatty acids to help promote good joint health and heart health
- Oatmeal – High in healthy fiber which can aid in reducing cholesterol and help to maintain a healthy weight
Additionally, ensuring you maintain a healthy weight has a multitude of advantages like:
- Reduces your risk of diabetes
- Promotes better joint health
- Reduces your risk of heart disease
- Lowers blood pressure
- Reduces your risk of cancer
- Lowers your risk sleep apnea
If you have any of these issues already, reducing your weight can aid in improving these conditions.
Though age plays a roll in our risk of COVID-19, having health issues only increases the severity of the situation.
Eating foods that boost our immune system will help fight off COVID-19, but so will staying active. It is proven that regular exercise increases one’s overall immune system. I know that may seem to be at odds with practicing social distancing, but according to Harvard Medical, daily exercise is essential in maintaining a healthy immune system.
Exercise has several benefits, but one of the most significant benefits we could all use right now is that it aids in alleviating stress. tress directly affects your overall physical health and can make you more susceptible to illness.
When choosing the right activity, remember to pick an activity that will not put you in a high traffic area. For example, if walking is your thing, try walking in your neighborhood instead of a park or mall. Some other healthy outdoor activities you can try and yet remain at a safe distance from others are:
Avoid activities in community areas such as pools or gyms, provided the building management hasn’t closed it. If you are not comfortable going out, you can always do in-home exercises as well.
There are many online or phone apps available for daily exercise routines varying in difficulty that don’t require equipment. You can also find countless instruction videos and classes on YouTube.
If you maintain a proper diet and exercise routine, it will go a long way in helping you stay healthy and strong, giving you the best chance of reducing the severity and duration of any illness.
Practice Social Distancing
Social distancing comes in multiple forms; some examples include:
- Canceling of large events
- Closing restaurants, bars, and theaters
- Closing gyms
But in addition to the government and company’s actions, we can practice social distancing on a day to day level by avoiding areas where large groups can still congregate like:
- Buses, trains, and subways
- Large stores
Social distancing isn’t just avoiding areas it also involves changing how we interact with the world, for example:
- Shopping online
- Requesting drop off delivery
- Using the drive-thru at the pharmacy
- Using curbside pick up at stores
- Visiting with friends and family electronically
If you must leave the house and interact with others, be sure that:
- You are healthy
- You wash your hands frequently
- You use hand sanitizer when hand washing isn’t available
- When possible, you keep a 6-foot distance from others
This pandemic isn’t going to last forever, and the stricter people are with practicing social distancing, the sooner this issue will resolve. Social distancing will not solve the problem, but it can reduce the chances of getting sick and slow the progress of the coronavirus.
Stay in Touch with Loved Ones
It is essential to check in with friends and family. We are all feeling isolated. And we all have concerns about the events in the world and the well-being of our loved ones.
Staying in touch with others via phone, video calls, text messaging, or even email will help everyone feel more connected. Though it isn’t the same as a hug we are all in this together and communicating with others can aid in keeping spirits up.
Feelings of isolation can lead to depression, and when combined with the stress of current events, can have significant adverse effects on ourselves and loved ones.
Have a Plan Just in Case
Even if you do everything right, you may still contract COVID-19, and if you do, it is vital to have a plan in place before then. The CDC recommends:
- Have an emergency contact list in the event you or another household member becomes ill
- Have a separate room and bathroom set up, if available, in the event someone in the household comes down with the coronavirus
- Get in contact with your neighbors, before COVID-19 impacts your community, to discuss any emergency planning and see how you all can work together and help one another
- Some neighborhoods may have or may start a website to communicate safely with one another
The CDC and WHO have stated that COVID-19 will impact most if not all communities, so being prepared ahead of time will make a significant difference in getting through this situation.