Tips for Senior Citizen
The article below appeared in the March 29 issue of Health with Perdana, a regular column in The Star by Perdana University faculty members. This week’s article is contributed by Dr. Mohamad Hasif Jaafar, Manager, Research Management Centre, Perdana University and Dr. Suhanya Parthasarathy.
With older adults more at risk of serious complications from Covid-19, here is some practical advice on how to avoid getting infected
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a pandemic is the global spread of disease. It first starts with epidemics, when the outbreak makes its way to other parts of the world, it becomes pandemic. There have been many occurrences in the past that have shaken the world, the most recent being the COVID-19 declared by the WHO on March 12, 2020. COVID-19 began as an epidemic last December in Wuhan, China, before making its way quickly around the world in a matter of months and becoming a pandemic.
Among all the ambiguity twirling around the pandemic stands one undeniable fact, that the elderly are the most vulnerable group of people, particularly those with underlying conditions. Case reports from China, Italy and other countries clearly show elderly people aged 60 plus are more susceptible to the disease. This is generally due to the weak immune system, so they are more vulnerable to infectious disease. They are also more likely to have underlying other medical ailments which weaken their body’s ability to fight infectious disease. During a pandemic outbreak, elders need the most extra care and few safety precautions that can help them stay safe. The crucial point is that people need to change their routine behaviour for the next 2 or 3 months. Most of the pointers are the same for all, but due to the fact that elders are at high risk, it is utmost important to follow.
Habituate social distancing
Stay at home, restrict visitation unless necessary. Get help for your daily routines, for example, grocery shopping. Get neighbours or family to help you out, if you have to do it, there are shopping complexes that are offering elderly shopping time to do it then. Avoid large gatherings, crowds and public transports. Abstain body contacts like shaking hands or hugging. Keep at least three feet away from people. Wear a mask when you are out, avoid touching your face. Wash your hands once you return home.
Be aware of the guidelines / Instruction by experts and follow them
As pandemics are not new to the world, several best practices have been recommended by the WHO. Familiarize yourself with guidelines and follow them. For instance the advice from WHO on how to wash your hands. Ask for assistance if you need help washing your hands. Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water for 20 seconds or clean them with alcohol-based sanitizers. Sanitize frequently touched items.
Avoid unnecessary travel
Cancel any travel plan that has been made for the coming months. Minimize visiting grandchildren as well. Social gathering, prayer gatherings, weddings, funerals are to be exempted for now. Even if you are feeling perfectly well, precautions are crucial to staying safe.
Be updated about the disease and symptoms
With any pandemic kindly always follow with the current progress and be up to date with the symptoms. For COVID-19, for instance, can be caught earlier by checking temperatures twice a day, which can be an early sign of the disease. If you have a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, seek treatment right away, as it is a contagious disease, you are risking yourself and also the community by not seeking help immediately. If you have the symptoms, call the helplines to exactly be advised what to do.
Reschedule inessential doctor’s appointments
Some experts are recommending that older adults that are at risk need to cancel nonessential doctor’s appointments, including wellness visits because you are exposing yourselves at a hospital. If you need to collect medication, please speak with your physician so that you can stock up on medication for a month or two and reduce hospital visits.
Stay socially active
Although social distancing is the pillar of pandemic control, it could lead to social isolation, which is already a problem in the older population. Experts suggest switching to virtual meetings with friends and relatives, with the benefits of social engagement in mind. With video chatting, Skype, Zoom, and Whatsapp, this is made possible and keeps someone socially active. Establish alternate ways to communicate with family and friends and stay socially connected.
Keep up with daily routine and exercise
Social distancing may affect routines in ways that can compromise the vitality of the elderly. Maintaining good habits, such as healthy eating, good sleep, taking your supplements and medications on time and also exercising is vitally important.
Seek help if you are stressed
If you are feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression, or anxiety, due to the stress and panic a pandemic has caused you due to the changes in your routine and adjustments you had to cope with, it is always critical to feeling free to talk to someone and seek help. It is a very common feeling during a heightened period, so please seek attention to it immediately. MENTARI is a new approach initiated by the Ministry of Health Malaysia (MOH) to improve outreach and re-integration of people with stress and coping problems which can be of help. Family members and close friends are good at listening as well as talking partners.
Take breaks from overwhelming fake news and stories in social media. Hearing repeatedly can be upsetting. Concentrate on taking care of yourself, try to do some other activities you enjoy. Connect with others. Talk with family and friends about your concerns and how you are feeling. Most of all are happy and continue doing things that keep you happy.