Staying Safe as Your City Reopens: Friends and Neighbors May be Resuming Their Regular Activities—Should You?

Cities and counties across the country are beginning to ease or even end the regulations that closed stores, restaurants, businesses, services, and schools back in March 2020. But adults 65 years and older and those with chronic health conditions are still at high risk for contracting COVID-19 and facing its most serious complications, including death.

If you have underlying medical conditions, particularly if they are not well controlled, the CDC suggests that it’s wise to continue to maintain the highest level of vigilance about going out and resuming your regular activities. Some of the specific underlying health conditions noted by the CDC include:

  • Chronic lung disease
  • Moderate to severe asthma
  • Serious heart conditions
  • Being “immunocompromised”
    • People who are immunocompromised have a reduced ability to fight infections and other diseases.  Many things can cause a person to be immunocompromised, including cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications.
  • Severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 40 or higher)
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic kidney disease and undergoing dialysis
  • Liver disease

You can’t reduce your chances of contracting COVID-19 to zero. But if you understand the risks and use proven prevention measures, you may be able to help reduce the spread of the virus.

KEEP IN MIND: If you have COVID-19, have COVID-19 symptoms, or have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, you must stay home and away from other people. Talk to your healthcare provider about your specific precautions. When you can leave home and see others depends on different factors for different situations. Follow the CDC’s recommendations for your circumstances.

Here is the CDC’s science-based guidance for the best way to protect yourself as you begin to resume daily activities:

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COVID-19: My City is Reopening. How Can I Protect Myself?

You may be living in an area where local officials have decided it’s time to begin loosening restrictions that were put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19. While we can’t reduce our chances of becoming infected with the virus to zero, we can lower our risks and help reduce the coronavirus’ spread as restrictions are lifted.

If you’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19, have symptoms, or have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, it is important to stay home and away from other people. When can you leave home and be around other people? That depends on different factors for different situations. Follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s recommendations for your circumstances.

As your area starts to reopen, your risk for contracting COVID-19 will be tied to several different factors. In general, the closer and longer you interact with others, the higher your risk of catching or spreading COVID-19. Ask yourself these questions: Continue reading

COVID-19: Addressing Elder Abuse, Social Isolation, and Other Key Concerns

By now, we’re all aware that COVID-19 poses heightened risks to older adults. The CDC reports that eight out of 10 deaths in the United States have been in people aged 65 and older.

But becoming infected with this potentially deadly virus isn’t the only risk that warrants our careful attention. Older adults face other COVID-19 related challenges, including issues that can impact emotional, physical, and even financial wellness. Reports of elder abuse (the mistreatment of someone because of their age) in its several terrible forms are sadly on the rise. But there are steps we can all take to help support those who need us.

“This is a test and I hope we pass it,” says Laura Mosqueda, MD. Dr. Mosqueda is Dean of the Keck School of Medicine, USC, and codirector of the National Center on Elder Abuse. Dr. Mosqueda shared her worries with us about the health and safety of older adults during this global pandemic. She is particularly concerned about four key issues that target older adults.

Social Isolation

“To me, what’s really interesting right now is that we know that the dangers of social isolation are really significant for older adults. In fact, we’ve been making all kinds of public health statements about just how dangerous social isolation is,” Dr. Mosqueda notes. “And now we’re telling everyone to socially isolate and to practice social distancing.”

Vulnerability to Financial Abuse

Because of this social isolation, older adults are now potentially more vulnerable to things like financial scams. This is because they may no longer have friends or family members dropping in regularly. According to Dr. Mosqueda, “these days, when an older adult just needs to get a home repair or something done, they don’t have as many people around who might be advocating for their best interests.” Continue reading

During the Coronavirus Crisis: Things to Consider if Someone You Care for is in Long-Term Care

If you are caring for someone who lives in a long-term care facility, you may have questions about their care and well-being during the coronavirus crisis. You’ve probably wondered whether it would be safer to take them out of the nursing home and move them into your home.

We put some of the questions you may be asking to Sharon K. Inouye, MD, MPH, Director, Aging Brain Center, Milton and Shirley F. Levy Family Chair Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

“These are very difficult and individual decisions for each family. There is no right or wrong situation, just a balance of the specific considerations,” says Dr. Inouye. “I had to consider this for my own mother. Ultimately, we were unable to move her out of her facility because our home was not set up for her safety (too many stairs, lack of adapted bathrooms, narrow hallways that would not permit her walker).”

Dr. Inouye noted other hazards at her sister’s home (who lives closest to her mother). Her children who are home from school might pose an exposure risk. Her family also has pets who could create fall risks.

“The facility where my mother lives has outstanding infection control processes and procedures in place, with a highly trained staff. So, with difficulty, we made the decision to keep her in the facility. Five weeks later, after one documented case of COVID-19, my mother remains safe without any additional cases. This turned out to be the right decision for our family, but it was a very difficult one—and obviously, had more cases emerged, it might have shifted the equation for us,” Dr. Inouye said.

Questions to Consider Continue reading

Avoiding COVID-19 Scams

Unfortunately, some people—including criminals—often look for opportunities to take advantage of others during times of national crisis. The current COVID-19 pandemic creates a perfect environment for lawbreakers who may be targeting vulnerable victims. Very often, their targets may be older adults.

Here are some effective defenses to help stop criminals in their tracks. Arm yourself with these smart strategies to protect yourself and your family against scammers.

First Step

Make sure to fact-check all the COVID-19 information you receive. Don’t share any messages about the virus on social media or email—or even in conversation with friends and loved ones—unless you verify the information is from a trusted source. Look to government agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), or the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). If you’re unsure about a news item or piece of information, use a fact-checking website such as www.snopes.com. Continue reading