Going outside shouldn’t be scary but many residents of Manchester and elsewhere are getting this message from their news sources, social media channels, even friends and family. All of these types of warnings make it hard to walk out the door sometimes, especially for those receiving palliative care.
The team at Above and Beyond Home Health Care and Hospice are happy to tell you that it’s OK to go outside if you want to or need to. You just have to take proper precautions for your safety and those around you who may have higher health risks.
We’re not just talking about COVID-19, the pandemic that led to a worldwide shut down in the spring of 2020 and claimed thousands of lives. This health condition has led to a quick shift into boundaries, sanitation, and basic hygiene. Though many states and local counties began the process of re-opening in May and June so as not to hurt commerce and tourism too much longer, many health experts continue to warn us that the virus is still out there and still can be deadly in the future, especially during the fall and winter when people start to come down with the flu.
Though COVID is getting much attention at the local, state, and national levels, there are still other infectious diseases out there that could potentially be spreading in the community. That means you shouldn’t give up or leave behind your protection items and your best practices, unlike many people who have declared that “everything is over and we’re fully back to normal.”
And regardless of what contagion to be aware of, seniors are generally at higher risk for catching and taking longer to fight it.
Follow the rules
There are several useful ways to protect yourself and others while still going outdoors, and even some methods to keep your space safe for you and family members or anyone who comes to visit.
Many of these guidelines come right from the Centers for Disease Control, which means it’s an official (provided you trust the country’s top disease management agency). If you don’t, many of the concepts and basic instructions are similar, even identical, to the guidelines that individual states and counties have been offering.
- Wear a mask when going somewhere outside of your home environment, especially somewhere enclosed. Part of the current controversy about masks came from earlier in the spring when the CDC suggested that available medical-grade masks should be saved for health care professionals, and cloth masks may not be appropriate for medical environments. However, guidelines evolved, and now masks of any style are strongly recommended for people, especially in areas where social distancing is not always a possibility or where they are required. Masks not only can keep you from breathing many germs in the air but keep you from possibly infecting others. Masks should cover your nose and mouth, and it’s also encouraged to wash it after one usage rather than use the same mask multiple times.
- Social distancing. The CDC encourages people to stand at least 6 feet apart when possible. This still allows for conversation but prevents possible infection especially by touch or breathing. Many businesses have staked out safe distance zones to make it easier to see the appropriate distances while waiting in line or walking down store aisles.
- Clean surfaces. Places that are touched regularly by you and others should be wiped down often, either with antiseptic wipes or other cleansers. This can reduce the risk of infection spreading to you or others. This can include common surfaces like light switches, doorknobs, phones, sinks, toilet handles, and more. This isn’t just useful advice for COVID-19 but other common infections. Initially there was fear that packages could be contaminated, but research in May has shown that this is less likely. Good cleaning also can mean throwing away contaminated items quickly like used tissue or not sharing silverware. This is just good hygiene.
- Seek other options. If you’re still not comfortable going out, figure out how to get groceries delivered. Many stores now offer curbside service with no extra charge, where store staff will come and put them in your car for you. Restaurants also offer similar to-go options. Even some health care providers are beginning to offer remove visits via computer or phone. Home health care personnel can also make recommendations about these types of delivery or virtual options in your community or explain what technology is required to get started.
- Don’t be afraid. Many mental health people say that a key to adapting well to any period of infection is your attitude. With the fear, sometimes conflicting advice, political anger, and even actual death taking place, it’s easy to be consumed with worry. It’s good to take precautions and be aware of possible areas of contamination and taking steps to avoid them.
Because of all the concern and confusion, the CDC has created a handy to read “Household Checklist.” It focuses on COVID-19 but can be used for other infection prevention efforts in the future as well.