Here are some actions everyone, particularly older individuals, can take:
1. Keep your regular medications and other supplies well-stocked. Given the vulnerability of older individuals and those with chronic conditions, the NCDC recommends that people all have access to several weeks of medications and supplies in case they need to stay home. Monitor food and other medical supplies needed and create a plan in the event that such resources become depleted. For families, know what medications your loved one is taking and see if you can help them have extra to hand.
2. Stay sanitized. Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is a top recommendation, as is carrying sanitizing hand rubs for the times you can’t wash your hands. Make sure your home and workplaces are clean and wiped with disinfectant regularly, with particular attention to electronics.
3. Respond to multigenerational living situations. Households, like communities, may be multigenerational, with different people at different levels of risk residing under one roof. Households, therefore, will need to consider the risks of all its members. One important consideration is that many older adults live in homes where other members, such as children, may have frequent colds. Families can institute changes now by not sharing personal items like food, water bottles and utensils. If possible, choose a room in your home that can be used to separate sick household members from those who are healthy. If possible, also choose a bathroom for the sick person to use.
4. Develop intentional caregiver plans. Older adults may be caregivers or may receive care themselves. Caregivers and care recipients should discuss their preparation plans, including how to stay in touch via phone or email. Determine who can provide you with care if your caregiver gets sick. Caregivers and their care recipients will need to work together to make sure they do not expose each other to Covid-19 in the event it has emerged in their community or if either is already showing symptoms. If you are a caregiver for someone living in a care facility, monitor the situation, ask about the health of the other residents frequently, and know the plan if there is an outbreak.
5. Communicate with providers and those close to you. Now is the time to talk with the people who need to be included in your plan. You may need to ask for help if you become sick. Meet with household members, other relatives and friends to discuss your response should Covid-19 infections occur in your community. If your neighbourhood has a website or social media page, consider joining it to stay connected to neighbours, information and resources. Anyone with symptoms should follow the recommendations from their nation’s lead public health organization. They should stay home and call their health care provider to inform them of their symptoms. People who live alone should have plans in place, even prior to the onset of any symptoms, for friends, family and healthcare providers to safety check on them and provide help if they do, in fact, develop symptoms or become sick.
6. Keep abreast of essential, up-to-date information. The situation with Covid-19 is changing rapidly. For example, in some areas, China has moved from in-home quarantine and isolation to dedicated facilities for suspect cases and others for confirmed cases. That means everyone should find and regularly check a trusted information source such as the WHO’s dedicated website or their national public health agency.