How to Safely Visit Loved Ones in Assisted Living Communities
By Dr. Todd Stivland
One of the horrible side effects of the novel coronavirus pandemic is the loss of contact with our loved ones sequestered in their assisted living apartments. This has resulted in loneliness and depression for both the residents and their families.
As we slowly began to increase our visitations, we want to make every effort to minimize the risk of viral transmission to residents and staff of the building. The coronavirus, or COVID-19, is transmitted through the air on tiny water droplets as the infected person breathes, coughs, talks, sings or sneezes. Up to 40% of people that are infected with the virus will have no symptoms, but can still transmit the disease. So what can you do to protect yourself and your family?
- Wear a mask. Most masks decrease transmission if you are contagious; an N95, if properly fitted, also helps protect you from getting infected.
- Wash your hands, often. Scrub your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds before rinsing.
- Limit hugs. Yes, it’s difficult, but avoiding direct contact with others means it’s best to skip the hugs.
- The more fresh air, the better. Being outside is best. When inside, open windows or stay in larger rooms with few people. Think of it like cigar smoke: Imagine if one in ten people near you were smoking a cigar. Would the smoke bother you? If yes, you are probably in a higher-risk area.
- Make your visits shorter. More time equals more exposure.
- Practice extra caution in your daily life. Avoid high-risk events, such as:
- Indoor family gatherings. Thanksgiving is going to be tough this year!
- Weddings, concerts, church services or other large gatherings.
- Indoor or crowded restaurants.
- Try other ways to connect. Don’t underestimate the power of a handwritten card, a phone call or a recorded message. Small things can mean so much.