Over 60? Here's How to Avoid COVID
If you are over 60 or suffer from one of the many health conditions that puts you into the high risk COVID-19 group, you need to take extra care during the COVID-19 pandemic. In an article for Yale Medicine Mary Tinetti, MD, Chief of Geriatrics at Yale, Richard Marottoli, MD, MPH, the medical director of the Dorothy Adler Geriatric Assessment Center at Yale New Haven Hospital, and James Lai, MD, the Associate Chief of Clinical Affairs for the Section of Geriatrics at the Yale School of Medicine, offer advice on how older adults can stay healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic, even after they have been vaccinated. Read on to find out how to keep yourself safe—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
Avoid Touching Your Face
“The illness enters the body through the nose, eyes, or mouth, and then proceeds to the lungs,” the doctors explain. One of the easiest ways to prevent transmission is to avoid touching your face, so that the particles you may come into contact with are never inhaled.
“The COVID-19 Vaccine appears to be safe and reduces the likelihood of developing a symptomatic Sars-Cov-2 infection; however, the length of this benefit for older adults is unknown. The vaccine appears to reduce risk of serious infection with the new variants, but that is still being evaluated. It is strongly recommended that all eligible individuals be vaccinated,” the doctors advise. If you haven’t already, sign up to be vaccinated.
Avoid Crowded Places
The more people in a space, the greater the chance of transmission. “Minimize contact with crowds, even after vaccination,” the Yale doctors suggest. “Have stores deliver or ask someone to pick up your groceries and medications. If you must go yourself, arrive early in the morning when fewer people are there and the store is at its cleanest.”
Keep Your Group Small
Even after you are vaccinated, keep your socializing limited to small groups. “Limit visits to 2 or 3 people at a time,” the doctors urge. “Follow CDC guidelines to know when there are enough people with immunity that it is safe to meet in larger groups.”
Avoid In-Person Religious Services
The Yale doctors do not recommend visiting a church, temple, synagogue or other places of worship—even if you are vaccinated. “For those who regularly attend worship services or other gatherings, see if your group offers streamed services,” they suggest. “If you go, do it at a time when there are few other people. Keep 10 feet from people if it is indoors. Avoid singing, which has a high likelihood of spreading COVID-19.”
While indoor group exercise is discouraged by most health officials, the Yale doctors encourage doing so outside. “Go for walks outside with other people, unless it is very cold or slippery. Stay at least six feet from others unless you need support to walk safely. Moving in the fresh air helps your physical and mental health and decreases the risk of getting COVID-19 from being with people,” they say.
Stay Connected with Friends and Family
While in-person gatherings are not recommended, the Yale doctors encourage interaction with friends and family. “Develop safe ways to communicate with your family and friends through phone calls, the internet or social distancing to prevent isolation, reduce the risk of depression, and maintain healthy contact with your community,” they suggest. “To stay connected during this time, if you have the equipment and can use it, communicate with Skype or FaceTime. If not, talk on the phone daily. Your friends are in the same situation and look forward to talking with others.”
Practice Hand Hygiene
Keep practicing hand hygiene, the Yale doctors remind us. “Wash your hands often for 20 seconds (sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice). Soap and water is better than hand sanitizer but use hand sanitizer if there is no access to soap and water. Use hand lotion to prevent your skin from drying and cracking.”
Maintain a Healthy Routine
They also suggest following a daily routine. “Prepare meals, eat, exercise, bathe, nap, go to bed, and wake up just as you would on ‘normal’ days. Try to eat healthy foods. Avoid ‘junk food’ and limit your alcohol intake to one glass (or less) per day,” they say. “Avoid the temptation to sleep in or sit on the couch all day. Sticking to a routine can help things feel normal and keep the blues away. It may help to write out your routine and post it where you can see it.”
Be Cautious About Doctors Visits
When you need to see a doctor, do so in a safe manner. “Contact all your clinicians’ offices to see if they have procedures in place for safe office visits, and visits related to any concerns you may have should you observe possible COVID-19 symptoms. Ask them about Telehealth or telephone options, which most offices are starting. If your clinicians think you should come to the office and they have COVID-19 precautions in place (most do), then it is important for your overall health that you maintain your health care visits,” the Yale doctors suggest. “If you have been in the hospital and need more help than usual, then you should consider short-term rehabilitation as an option. Ask potential caregivers (at rehabilitation facilities or at your home) if they have been vaccinated. Wherever you get your care, the caregivers and you should wear masks and keep at least a six-feet distance except when necessary.”
Follow the Recommended Fundamentals
Finally, “wearing masks, eye protection, and social distancing continue to be effective ways of reducing the spread of the virus, even after getting the vaccine,” they explain. So follow Fauci's fundamentals and help end this surge, no matter where you live—wear a face mask, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.