Protecting Seniors from Coronavirus

featured image showing a young person caring for an elder

Sierra Senior Services is aware of the outbreak of a novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and is making preparations to accommodate our seniors. The most important thing is to remain calm and become informed. In that spirit, Sierra Seniors believes it would be best to inform our community about COVID-19, what it is, what its symptoms are, and how best to prepare and avoid infection.

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that have garnered a great deal of attention in the last few decades. Diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) are part of the coronavirus family. Now the world is focused on the most recent outbreak of a novel coronavirus, which has been labeled COVID-19. This particular strain has not yet been previously identified in humans, but global health leaders are concerned because some coronaviruses are associated with deadly illnesses. Although there is cause for concern, the most important reaction to an emergency situation is to remain calm and diligently prepare.

Common symptoms shared between coronaviruses include respiratory ailments, fever, cough, shortness of breath, and difficulty breathing. In severe cases, symptoms include pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and death. According to the World Health Organization, COVID-19 has a mortality rate of approximately 3.4 percent, compared to around 1 percent for the seasonal flu. That compares to a mortality rate of 9.6 percent for SARS and 34.4 percent for MERS. Although COVID-19 has a lower mortality rate, it has infected significantly more people than either SARS or MERS.

Additional risk factors include people with chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease.

Another risk factor is age. COVID-19 appears to be more serious in the elderly due to older people’s compromised immune systems. If you live or work with the elderly, make sure you wash your hands regularly, avoid physically touching them, and help the elderly avoid large groups. Make sure to have supplies on hand, such as medications, in case of an outbreak of COVID-19 in your community. If you suspect an elderly person is infected with COVID-19, seek medical attention immediately.

Follow these steps closely to help prevent the spread of infectious disease:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Stay home when you are sick, expect to receive medical care
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially before eating or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash immediately
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
  • Only wear facemasks if you show symptoms of COVID-19, such as a cough, fever, or shortness of breath

Sierra Senior Services is closely monitoring the situation and we are preparing prevention plans. Our seniors are in a vulnerable state and it is incumbent on all of us to be informed and proactive about COVID-19. As long as we remain calm and follow the recommendations of the healthcare community, we can weather this storm together.

Sierra Senior Services is the local Meals on Wheels provider covering 860 miles of the Greater Truckee/Lake Tahoe region. We provide home-delivered meals, community dining, and social connection, and coordinates additional support services that empower seniors to continue living independently. Recipients are individuals 60 years of age or older who have diminished capacity in at least two of the following areas: walking, transferring, standing, bathing, dressing, preparing a meal or mental competency, are eligible to participate. Sierra Senior Services is a California 501-(c)-3 Non-profit Corporation · Tax ID 68-0484075 Contribute today!

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