These are very scary and uncertain times. We have no idea of when the end of this is in sight. When will things get back to some semblance of normalcy? When will many of us get back to work? Will it be safe to even go back to work? Will schools and day camps open back up? How will I feed and care for myself and my family? There are so many questions with little answers.
It appears that we are in this for the long haul. Which means staying diligent in our effort to protect ourselves and our families, trying not to grow weary with these warmer days coming upon us by relaxing the acts of social distancing, hand washing and staying home.
But despite being vigilant, at this point, I’m sure many of us either know someone or even yourself who has contracted COVID-19, and may have unfortunately may have lost their battle with the virus or gratefully they have recovered.
With the opening of the country and the relaxing of some rules and regulations in some areas, the death rate and the infection rate is projected to climb. Its important to fortify your health as best as you can to try to protect yourself. However, it may be inevitable that you or someone you love may become infected. Most people who are infected have mild symptoms and may be cared for at home. The decision to remain at home or be admitted to the hospital will be made by your physician and will depend on your underlying health conditions and the severity of your symptoms.
Here are 10 tips to help get you through when you are caring for a COVID-19 patient:
1. Alert your doctor to your diagnosis of a positive state as soon as possible. He/she will help you determine whether you can be cared for at home or need to be admitted.
If you are allowed to stay home:
2. Isolation – Try to isolate that person in a separate area of the house such as their room or a basement. If you have to share a room make sure the windows are open for good ventilation, improving ventilation helps remove respiratory droplets from the air.
3. The person caring for the individual who is sick should NOT be high risk themselves– examples of high risk individuals may include those who are 65 years of age and older, immunocompromised, have liver disease, are obese with BMI greater than 40, have kidney disease requiring dialysis or heart and lung conditions.
4. Limit contact as much as possible – avoid going into the sick room only unless you have to. Wear masks and gloves and wash hands directly after handling food, utensils, dishes laundry or other items. Wash dishes and utensils with hot soapy water and use disposable gloves if possible. If possible, use disposable utensils and dishware to reduce exposure even more.
5. Separate bathrooms – use separate bathrooms if at all possible. Some researchers have found COVID-19 virus in feces. If you are unable to use separate bathrooms, wait as long as possible after the infected person has used the bathroom and disinfect thoroughly before each and every use.
6. If you are doing the laundry for an infected person, avoid shaking the clothes before washing. If the label allows, its suggested to wash garments in hot water and dry on hot heat.
7. Clean and disinfect high trafficked area daily – places we take for granted- door knobs, light switches, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks, tables, electronics, our phones…all things you touch daily.
8. Place disposable gloves and other contaminated items in a lined trash can.
Use gloves when removing and disposing of trash and wash hands afterwards. If possible, dedicate a lined trash can for the sick contact.
9. Vital signs are important – have the infected patient take their temperature throughout the day and record it. If possible, a finger pulse ox can be purchased online which will give you a reading of the heart rate and oxygen saturation which you can share with your doctor. Track your own health as well. Common symptoms we all know about are fever, cough and shortness of breath. Trouble breathing is a serious warning sign, and you should seek medical attention immediately if this is occurring.
10. Make sure the person has plenty of fluids and rest.
Some over the counter fever reducers can help to make them feel better. Make sure to add healthy foods to add in nutrition and healing. Also, if they have pets, please take care of their pets and limit contact between the pets and the person who is sick.
Some aids that patients and friends have shared with me that have been said to be useful are bone broth, chicken noodle soup, teas, hot fluids, ginger, lemon cinnamon, vitamins minerals and supplements, aromatherapy, cough and deep breathing exercises, walking daily if possible, cough suppressants, Tylenol, TheraFlu, and Vicks’ Vaporub!
Remember as you care for the sick and infirmed, care for yourself as well and wear a mask and gloves at all times and WASH your hands.
If you find yourself caring for someone who has COVID-19, call the calvary. Call your family, friends, neighbors and anyone else who can help. Ask them to make dinners, go grocery shopping, walk the dog, and help with errands. It’s wise to ask for help during a crisis like this.
We’ll get through this together.