Precautions to Prevent Spread of Covid-19 in Senior Living Facilities

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The Covid-19 virus is continuing to spread around the world at an alarming rate, and governments are adopting varying approaches to tackling the pandemic. 

While many European countries, such as Spain and Italy, have imposed lockdowns and strict social distancing measures, the UK has so far opted against this and is pursuing a somewhat controversial strategy. 

The exact mortality rate of the novel Coronavirus is not concrete and has so far exhibited significant variance from country to country, but has been as high as seven percent in some countries, according to current data. 

However, the mortality rate has been confirmed to be far higher in senior citizens, as they are far more vulnerable to death once they contract the virus than a healthy adult. 

This is because their immune systems are typically weaker and therefore struggle to fight off the virus. Furthermore, people with certain ailments, such as respiratory conditions, are also more vulnerable to death once they contract the Covid-19 virus.

The increased vulnerability of senior citizens has been acknowledged by health officials and politicians, with some calling on the elderly to self-isolate for weeks up to a few months and only communicate with family members via video calls and texts. 

Senior living facilities are of particular concern, as they house many vulnerable senior citizens in close proximity, so if the Covid-19 virus makes its way into such communities (as it has done in some places), the impact could be catastrophic. 

How to Tackle the Spread of Covid-19 in Senior Communities?

Senior citizens should exercise additional caution to protect themselves and their fellow residents in senior living facilities. 

Doing the basics right can go a long way in preventing the spread of Covid-19 and other infectious diseases. For example, seniors are encouraged to thoroughly wash their hands several times a day with soap and warm water. They should avoid coming into direct contact with residents, nurses, and family members whenever possible. 

The Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention have issued other guidelines on the matter. They have called for cleaning schedules to be ramped up, with a focus on disinfecting communal surfaces. 

They have also recommended care homes to cancel communal activities, such as lunches and other gatherings, to make internal transmission less of a possibility.

Furthermore, the CDC has instructed senior living facilities to issue hand sanitizers to residents who are 60 percent to 95 percent alcohol-based, though health officials maintain that washing your hands is the most effective way to kill the virus and is, therefore, the preferred option. 

These measures limit the spread of the Covid-19 virus within a care home, but how can senior living facilities stop it from entering their community in the first place? The most effective way is a combination of staff screening, not allowing any visitors to the homes, and nurses and other staff washing their hands as soon as they arrive at the facility. Planned outings for residents should also be canceled. 

As an additional precautionary measure, any members of staff or residents who exhibit symptoms, such as a cough or fever, should be strictly isolated from the rest of the community and given a face mask to wear. 

A Quick Summary

  • The Covid-19 outbreak is continuing to spread across the world, with the number of cases in the US rising sharply rapidly. 
  • Seniors are particularly vulnerable to the novel Coronavirus, and special attention should, therefore, be paid to preventing the virus’ spread to and within senior living facilities. 
  • The CDC has called on seniors to practice good personal hygiene and social distancing when possible.
  • To prevent the virus from penetrating elderly communities, trips should be canceled, and visitors shouldn’t be allowed into the facilities. 

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