older woman sneezing at the parkIn addition to the annual flu virus that infects millions of people worldwide, we now have another serious illness to contend with: Coronavirus (COVID-19) has been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). With real-time news available at our fingertips, there’s an overload of information that can serve to confuse, rather than inform us.

While it’s important to stay current on the latest health updates, we can take action by learning how to protect ourselves from infection. If you’re a healthy individual, your chances of contracting a virus are low, unless you have direct contact with someone infected.

Seniors at Risk

On the other hand, seniors with weaker immune systems and pre-existing health conditions are at increased risk of contracting COVID-19. As a result, an outbreak in a nursing home setting can be very dangerous.

In response, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have updated their guidelines on how facilities should prepare and react.

For everyone, the best way to stay healthy is to follow some very basic tips to reduce exposure to dangerous viruses and even the common cold.

Wash Your Hands

Unfortunately, many people do not know or simply choose not to wash their hands properly. Running your hands under water with a drop of soap is not enough. Experts recommend you spend at least 20 seconds washing your hands with soap under warm water and lathering every area – including between fingers and under nails.

If you don’t have access to soap and clean running water, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol to ensure you’re sanitizing properly. Once soap and water become available, still wash your hands.

Use Your Elbow

Most of us were taught to cover our mouths when we cough or sneeze, yet we should not be using our hands. Studies suggest using the crook of your elbow instead is much safer to prevent the spread of germs.

If you catch a cough or sneeze with a tissue, dispose of it immediately and wash your hands. Also, avoid touching your face before your hands have been washed, as it’s very easy to transfer bacteria from your hands to your eyes, nose or mouth.

Boost Your Immune System

The best defense against catching a virus is to have a healthy immune system that can fight it off. Getting enough sleep, staying hydrated, exercising regularly and eating healthy can be the difference between warding off a cold and developing a serious illness.

Avoid Sick People

Unfortunately, not everyone who is sick stays home. In public, do your best to avoid contact with anyone you see coughing or sneezing and stay away from things they have touched.

Also keep in mind that stressing over the latest news reports can cause undue stress and anxiety, leading to poor health. Get regular updates directly from trusted sources, such as the WHO or Centers for Disease Control, and focus on maintaining your own healthy habits.

Avon Health Center is enforcing all restrictions put forth by the CDC and Connecticut Department of Public Health. We understand the difficulty of limited communication and have put alternatives in place to help residents “visit” with their loved ones, including phone calls, Skype, window visits and family conference calls.
We appreciate how difficult these times are for our residents and families; we’ll get through this together. For more information, contact us today.