COVID-19 has changed the way that many of us fundamentally approach life. Denver residents are not only dealing with the risk of illness but job loss and the general stresses that come with being confined during quarantine. But it’s important to remember that though many are dealing with the issues that come with the virus, it is particularly dangerous to a key population: senior citizens. Seniors in Denver are no less at risk of contracting COVID-19 than those in any other city. And as the second wave during the fall and winter of 2020 begins to set in to a serious degree, both seniors themselves and their caregivers need to understand how this virus is transmitted, how it’s affecting the elderly population, and what they can do about it.
Firstly, it’s important to understand why health advisers are so much more concerned about senior citizens contracting COVID-19 compared to the rest of the population. Potentially, anyone can be killed or develop long-term disabilities due to the coronavirus. But some people are more at risk than others. Those with obesity or obesity-related diseases, as well as respiratory-related conditions and conditions that compromise the immune system, are more vulnerable to the coronavirus. Senior citizens often suffer from certain diseases and conditions due to the issues that come naturally with aging. Their immune systems are also naturally weaker, and many also struggle to deal with the kinds of symptoms naturally associated with COVID-19. Sadly, research shows that 2 million Americans misuse prescription pain drugs. The issue with COVID-19 is that not only does it lack a vaccine; it also lacks a cure. There is no definitive treatment that everyone responds to in the same way after contracting the coronavirus. Essentially, the severity of the symptoms can vary wildly, and people simply have to wait out the symptoms. This can be difficult for the elderly. Now, the reason why this concerns caregivers is that they not only need to be on the lookout for symptoms in order to treat the virus aggressively if it’s contracted; they also need to be especially careful about catching it themselves, as the virus is incredibly contagious.
How Do I Prevent Myself From Catching COVID-19?
Unfortunately, there still isn’t an effective COVID-19 vaccine available to the general public — not in Denver, and not anywhere else. COVID-19 is spread in a number of different ways, and it’s still a new enough disease for the full circumstances in which it spreads to remain unknown. It is known that the virus spreads through saliva and the moisture droplets that people naturally expel when breathing and talking. This is why it’s recommended that everyone wear masks whenever they must leave their own homes. Masks with mesh, of course, will not suffice. They must block the transfer of the virus as much as possible.
Physical distancing is also hugely important. People should stay six feet apart or more; the fact is that if caregivers can follow this rule, they should, but of course, they cannot necessarily follow it at all times. Caregivers can further protect seniors in their care by using hand sanitizer and washing their hands whenever they’re returning in from a quarantine break. Speaking of quarantine, caregivers and seniors should still quarantine as much as possible. While some areas are less locked down than they once were, if you can stay home as much as possible you should. Furthermore, you should consider the fact that if you have made known contact with COVID-19, you need to quarantine yourself for a 14-day minimum period. If you’re the caregiver of a senior, you should find someone else to care for the seniors in your life until you have quarantined for 14 days and of course tested negative for the virus. If you’re a senior and you don’t need the care of another, consider looking online or calling to ask about “seniors only” shopping hours in grocery stores. Hospitals and urgent care centers also sometimes offer areas that are meant specifically for seniors, which makes it possible for them to be examined or tested safely.
Again, much remains unknown about the transference of the virus. It is known that those that rely upon recycled water sources may be less likely to contract the virus. As the COVID-19 particle is just .125 micron, it actually doesn’t travel back into recycled water. But beyond that and the other facts listed above, much is debated. Keep in mind that some experts have speculated about the six feet distance not being distanced enough, and the virus spreading generally throughout the air. In every case, being overly cautious is important.
What Do I Do If I’m Worried That I Caught COVID-19?
If Denver residents are worried that they’ve caught COVID-19, they do have options available. Urgent care centers will likely be a better place to receive a COVID-19 test than a major hospital, which in itself might be crowded and therefore dangerous. Major drugstore chains like CVS are also offering drive-through drugstore tests, wherein people can swab their own noses. Depending on your insurance coverage, you may or may not have to pay out of pocket for the test. There are two types of diagnostic tests: the PCR test and the rapid tests. The PCR test is somewhat more accurate but can take anywhere from two to seven days to return results. The rapid test may have a higher false negative rate, depending on when the individual is tested after their initial infection; but it’s still overall quite accurate, and returns results within half an hour.
It’s important, too, to take care of your mental health regardless of whether or not you’ve caught the virus. Seniors are often caught up with thinking of end of life procedures, especially now; though just 37% of American seniors have advanced directives in place when planning for a sudden illness of incapacitation, they’re being forced to consider them in the face of COVID-19. It’s important that people don’t let their mental health get away from them. Fortunately, resources like the Colorado Crisis Center are available for Denver residents feeling the stress of COVID-19.
There are so many issues to consider now more than ever before, whether you’re a senior or the caregiver of a senior. Lean on those that you can, be cautious, and follow the CDC guidelines. That will lead you down the right path.