Caring for Loved Ones with Coronavirus
People are going to great lengths to protect themselves and their loved ones from contracting Coronavirus (COVID-19). But, they can only do so much to avoid it. If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or you know someone who has, Susan Fidler, MD, assistant director, Family Medicine Residency Program, Abington Hospital – Jefferson Health, provides advice on how to care for yourself and others.
Caring for Yourself
If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, there are a number of measures you can take to care for yourself and protect others in the household:
· Stay at home
· Isolate yourself from those around you
· Get plenty of rest
· Drink plenty of fluids
· Use Tylenol to treat some symptoms such as fever or body aches
· Rest on your side or stomach
· Avoid sharing household items
· Keep a separate trash receptacle
· Wipe down high touch surfaces
· Wash and sanitize your hands often
“The infected patient is considered contagious until symptoms are present for a minimum of seven days, and the symptoms are improving and the individual has at least three days without a fever, while off of medications,” Dr. Fidler states. “If someone in your household has a weakened immune system, you may want to stay separate for closer to 14 days from the onset of symptoms, rather than seven.”
Caring for Others
When caring for a COVID-19 patient, offer your help and support as much as possible. With COVID-19 symptoms present, your loved one may need help around the house and someone to be there for them during this time. If you are caring for someone with COVID-19:
· Maintain limited contact
· Provide medication to treat symptoms when needed
· Help prepare meals
· Encourage them to drink plenty of fluids
· If they have pets, offer to care for their pets
· Wash your hands frequently
· Refrain from touching your face
“If another person in the household was exposed to a patient with COVID-19, they should be in self-isolation for 14 days from their last contact with the infected person or from when the patient meets the criteria above to be deemed not contagious, if they have not been able to separate themselves from the infected household member.” Dr. Fidler says.
Throughout your time caring for a COVID-19 patient, it is important to continuously monitor your own symptoms for a possible COVID infection.
The Expert's Advice
If possible, a person with COVID-19 should have a bedroom and bathroom separate from those in the rest of the household. The patient should spend as much time in this designated area as possible.
If the patient must travel to other areas of the house, all members in the shared space should wear a mask. In shared spaces, whenever possible, improve ventilation by opening a window or using a larger room.
When in a common area, where a COVID-19 patient is being directly cared for by family members, it is strongly advised that all of the parties involved wear a mask.
It is important for people with COVID-19 to watch for worsening shortness of breath, trouble breathing or confusion. If these symptoms occur, call your primary care physician or go to the emergency room for an evaluation.