First a warning. Do not try taking care of your elderly parents or relatives if you have flu-like symptoms. This is the only care that you can take of elderly.
Moving on, every Indian home has elderly people. It is not that the rest of the world doesn’t have elderly but not too many countries are as hugely and densely populated as India. This makes presence of elderly people in Indian homes more common than the most. And, the novel coronavirus has been found to multiply the complications that aging brings to elderly people.
Covid-19 has been found to have been more fatal among elderly people with existing health problems such as those related to lungs, heart, kidney or if they have diabetes or have had cancer and HIV infection.
The guide is simple: follow basic hygiene rules.
Do not visit elderly people if you have novel coronavirus.
Do not visit elderly if you have met someone with exposure to novel coronavirus.
When you do visit elderly people, maintain a one-metre distance. It could be about two to three steps backwards.
Do not forget to wash your hands with a soap. If you cannot get your hands on a soap, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to clean your hands.
Do not shake hands or embrace elderly people while visiting them.
Make sure you don’t go outside when it is avoidable.
Make sure that you don’t touch any surface outside unless it is absolutely essential. Novel coronavirus tends to survive longer on certain surfaces and you actually have no idea who laid hands on that surface before you arrived.
Wash your hands with soap on your return home. And, also your face if you have touched it while out. You must have touched your face because a normal person touches her face up to 3000 times a day.
Do not mix your clothes with elderly people. Ensure they use separate bath and hand towels than the rest of the family. It is advisable in these times for every individual to use separate towels. A typical Indian family believes in sharing. The members share common toothpaste, common bathing bar, common towel, common chair or sofa and fight for that one TV remote control. This is the time to let elderly enjoy the luxury of owning a separate of everything that has been common.
Should people be visiting their older relatives and community members right now?
The data that we have now suggests that the risk of getting much sicker with the Covid is 60 and older. But it’s even people in their 40s and 50s if they have serious chronic situations such as lung disease or heart failure.
It is such a big trade-off because interacting and being socially engaged is so essential to get through this difficult time. But we know from what’s happened in other countries already that the best prevention is the more you social-distance and keep away.