Many family caregivers live with the older adults they care for. Because of this, they may be especially concerned about contracting the coronavirus and whether it could spread within the household to infect the senior. A recent study indicates that the fear of spreading the disease through a home is a realistic one.
About the Study
The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Florida. It was led by Yang Yang, PhD, an associate professor of biostatistics. To determine the risk, Yang and his team collected data on 212 coronavirus patients, their close contacts who got the virus, and 1,983 non-infected contacts.
After factoring in differences in contact level and other information, the researchers determined that the chances of the virus spreading within a household is about 19 percent. In addition to determining the risk, the researchers also found that the chance of spreading the virus is highest during its incubation period when the infected person may not have any symptoms.
This information isn’t presented with the intent of scaring caregivers. Instead, caregivers should be encouraged by the 81 percent chance of NOT spreading the virus to their aging relatives. However, to prevent the spread, it’s important to follow certain steps.
How to Prevent the Coronavirus from Spreading
If someone in the home has the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends taking these steps:
- Call the doctor for medical support and advice.
- Provide over-the-counter medicines, such as aspirin, that can help to alleviate symptoms. Always talk to a doctor or pharmacist before giving a senior something new to ensure it won’t interact with other medications they are taking.
- Limit contact between the infected person and pets as there have been a few cases of the virus spreading to pets.
- Watch for severe symptoms that signal a need for emergency care, such as trouble breathing, pain or pressure in the chest that doesn’t go away, confusion, inability to wake up, or a blue tint to face or lips.
- Confine the person to one bedroom and one bathroom. If possible, don’t let anyone else use the bathroom.
- Disinfect surfaces and carefully wash any utensils and other items used by the infected person.
- The infected person should wear a mask whenever they are near other people.
It’s important for caregivers to protect themselves from getting the coronavirus since they will be unable to care for the older adult if they are ill. Wear disposable gloves whenever you need to touch the person with coronavirus or any of their bodily fluids. Throw gloves away after use and wash hands thoroughly. In addition, caregivers should practice frequent hand washing and avoid touching their faces.