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Coronavirus and caregiving. Tips for keeping healthy during the COVID-19 crisis.

In Children and Family, Health, history, National News, Politics, Science, Senior Lifestyle, Uncategorized on March 15, 2020 at 5:49 pm

(Reprinted by permission from the Old Nerd in the Gym Fitness blog)

As of the time of this writing, COVID-19, known as the Coronavirus, has become a pandemic and lives and countries affected are growing exponentially with no end in sight. As government and private medical resources scramble for a viable vaccine, Americans struggle with the idea of social distancing and isolation. Some of the most widely affected are those who care for others – medical professionals and, in our interest here, informal caregivers.

The isolation already felt by caregivers can be greatly exacerbated by further restrictions on respite time or visits from friends and family. It is difficult to know with whom people may have come into contact causes and the danger to your family member is unpredictable. Even in-home care providers create a higher risk for patients and their caregivers.

For those with family members in a nursing facility, there is now a greater feeling of separation. Nursing care guidelines have restricted visiting hours or cancelled them entirely for all but hospice patients. Whatever stress caregivers face on a day-to-day basis are now greatly multiplied.

During this difficult time it’s important that caregivers remember to practice additional self-care. Here are some tips that might help. 


Protecting Yourself and Your Charge

First and foremost is protecting yourself and your family member from potential infection. Nothing is failsafe, but there are things you can do to minimize the potential hazards and it all starts with factual information. (Here is information provided by the Washington State Department of Health)

How is the novel coronavirus that can cause COVID-19 spread?

Coronaviruses are primarily spread through respiratory droplets, which means to become infected, people generally have to be within six feet of someone who is contagious for an extended period of time, and have droplets land on them. This is very different from airborne diseases like measles, so the public health response is different.

To reduce your risk of getting any viral respiratory infection:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces.
  • Stay at home away from others if you are sick.
  • Cover mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.

Dealing With Isolation & Monotony

It might be tough to battle the day-to-day monotony and isolation of caregiving but now it’s going to be even harder. Respite becomes all the more important but, with social safety restrictions and countless event and activity closings, it will be fleeting at best. Rest and diversion are vital to mental stability and calm. 

Exercise. Find exercises you can do at home. Most streaming services offer some type of free exercise videos you can follow. Yoga and meditation can help too, or just go outside and take a walk, even if it’s just around the house. If you can, take your charge with you. Avoid contact with others, but open air is good for everyone. Try to find something to get your heartrate up. 

Food. Be careful not to overeat. Ignoring the potential for supply shortages, if only to avoid the infection risk at the store, boredom will invite snacking and the potential to overeat. When you do shop, avoid buying chips or other unhealthy snacks and keep fresh fruit and veggies on hand. Citrus and other fruits will help to shore up your immune system. Provide the same to your family member if they’re able. 

Proper hydration is also a concern during these trying times. As has been mentioned many times in the Old Nerd articles and podcasts, staying hydrated is vital to health. Be sure to keep health drinks like low or no-sugar fruit juice and water.

Sleep. Proper rest is critical to mental and physical health alike. It’s difficult enough to rest when your mind is full of worry and fear as a caregiver. Now, adding the virus concerns sleep will be even more fleeting. Still, make every effort. Avoid screens within an hour or so before trying to sleep and don’t watch the news. Read a book you like or play a game with your charge or other household member. Do something to take your mind off of everything before you try to sleep. Build a routine around it and do your best to hold to it. 

KEY TIP: Avoid Social Media

It might seem, during such isolated times, that social media would be a great way to keep in contact with the outside world. But Facebook, Twitter and the like are far too full of false information, non-scientific nonsense and just flat-out negativity. None of this will be helpful to maintaining sharp mental focus and a calm emotional state. Turn it off. If you want to talk to family and friends pick up the phone or video chat so you can see and hear them. That will comfort you, not the ravings of crazy internet trolls. 

Hang In There.

Everyone must be in this for the long-haul. There is no vaccine for this disease yet in sight, but professionals are working hard. Follow the CDC guidelines and be careful. Proper hand-washing and advanced self-care will see it through. 

We will be releasing more advice and information as available. In the meantime, here are some resources that might help.

SOURCES & RESOURCES: 

CDC Definitions and Information on Quarantine and Isolation: https://www.cdc.gov/quarantine/index.html

World Map of COVID-19 Infections:  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-updates/world-map.html

Women’s Health & Pregnancy Resources

Women’s Health Care Physicians Practice Advisory for COVID-19, ACOG

Inpatient Obstetric Healthcare Guidance, CDC

Coronavirus Disease and Pregnancy, CDC

Guidance on Breastfeeding for a Mother with COVID-19, CDC

Starve A Cold and Stay In Bed

In Business, Children and Family, Education, Health, Opinion, psychology, Senior Lifestyle, sociology, Uncategorized on November 20, 2012 at 9:28 am

DEER IN HEADLINES

By Gery L. Deer

 

When I was helping to care for my mother towards the end of her life, my cousin and I did everything we could to limit her exposure to even the slightest sneeze or sniffle. Everything from the bed rails to the wheelchairs was repeatedly and regularly wiped down with antibacterial solutions to prevent her from picking up a random bug that, in her weakened condition, could possibly be life-threatening.

Of course, we couldn’t protect her from everything. From time to time, we would have to take her out of the controlled environment of her home for doctor visits, family functions and sometimes just to give her some fresh air. But what I grew increasingly paranoid of was the amazing number of people who would go about their day suffering from severe colds or other illnesses, seemingly ignorant to the potential dangers they posed to others.

Despite other achievements, medical science is still remarkably ignorant of the common cold and its associated contagions. Doped up on symptom-hiding chemicals, people plod blearily through the day without a second thought to the fact that they could make others seriously ill just by being the last person to push a door open or use a shopping cart.

More mind-blowing are the numbers of healthcare workers and restaurant servers who go to work sick and are allowed to remain at their post. This is just ridiculous. I understand that it’s hard to take a day off when you’re working hour by hour but by staying home you may be losing a few bucks but you might be keeping someone else from becoming deathly ill, and getting yourself back to health a bit faster.

So how do you know when you should call in sick? On Tuesday, November 20, Dr. Holly Phillips, on CBS This Morning’s Health Watch, offered these suggestions for knowing when you should stay home. “It’s hard to know when you should call out sick,” she notes. “A fever, particularly in the 101 – 102 degree range, accompanied by aches and pains, might signal the flu, and you should definitely stay home.”

“A milder fever, sore throat white patches on tonsils indicates a strep infection and it’s probably time for some antibiotics, so a doctor visit is recommended,” she says. “A low grade fever coupled with a cough and sniffles mild signal a mild cold, so it’s your choice to stay home or not. But if you choose to go to work, be kind to your co-workers and wash your hands often and cover mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing and don’t handle food.”

Researchers say that the common cold costs American business more than $25 billion every year. More than $17 billion of that loss is attributed to people who go to work sick and are therefore less productive. In my opinion, wives tales and ignorance are also major contributors to that loss.

For years, people thought a cold or other infections illness came from being outside in the rain or by not wearing a coat outside on chilly days. These behaviors lower the immune system, but colds and other diseases come from other people through some kind of contact, either person-to-person, or person-to-object. We spread these things ourselves, no divine intervention is required. In the end, it’ll be our own ignorance that kills us.

I’m not a doctor, but I can tell you from my own experiences that the number one part of preventing colds and flu is in sanitation. Maintaining a clean sink and toilet, using liquid instead of bar soaps, paper towels or air dryers and, when you can’t wash, antibacterial wipes and gels.

An ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure. If you do have a cold or some other issue that has you sneezing and coughing all day, please consider those around you. Had we not been so proactive, my mother could have died much earlier from complications of what to some people are just minor respiratory issues.

If you work in food service, stay home. If you work in medical care or around kids and the elderly, stay home. And as they always say, get lots of rest and drink plenty of liquids.

 

 

Greene County Combined Health District receives $41,999.99 in Traffic Safety Grants

In Children and Family, Education, Health, Local News, Media, State News, Uncategorized on October 12, 2012 at 7:37 am

Federal Funds from Office of Criminal Justice Services Help Save Lives in Greene County

 

XENIA, OH – Laurie Fox, Greene County’s Safe Communities Coordinator, announced today that the Ohio Department of Public Safety’s (ODPS) Office of Criminal Justice Services (OCJS) awarded $41,999.99 in federal traffic safety funding to the Greene County Combined Health District’s Safe Communities program for federal
fiscal year 2013.

“Partnerships are critical to the success of any safety effort and we are committed to working with law enforcement and other safety partners to address traffic safety concerns in Greene County,” said Fox.

The Greene County Safe Communities Coalition has identified that lack of seat belt use, motorcycle safety and distracted/impaired driving is impacting the safety and welfare of the citizens of Greene County. To save lives and improve the quality of life for our citizens, the Safe Communities Coalition will use the grant funds to increase awareness about distracted and impaired driving in the local high schools, motorcycle safety, and continue to educate the public on the importance of seat belt use through participation in local festivals, school presentations and other programming.

The funds are passed through OCJS from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to support the efforts of safety partners statewide and focus on traffic safety priority areas such as restraint use, impaired driving, motorcycle safety and youthful drivers.

Competitive grant proposals are accepted and reviewed by OCJS. The FFY 2013 competitive grant process solicited grant proposals from state agencies, non-profit organizations, colleges, universities, hospitals, political subdivisions and other interested groups within selected Ohio counties and jurisdictions (based upon the number of fatal crashes).

For more information about the Office of Criminal Justice Services and statewide efforts to improve safety on Ohio’s roadways, log on to http://www.ocjs.ohio.gov.

Has Anybody Seen My Youth?

In Children and Family, Education, Health, Opinion, psychology, Senior Lifestyle, Uncategorized on August 28, 2012 at 9:34 am

By Gery L. Deer

Deer In Headlines

One morning I woke up, looked in the mirror and realized there was an old, wrinkly guy with graying hair staring back at me where, just yesterday it seemed, stood a young, freckle-faced kid. I could have sworn I had my youth here somewhere. Did I put it in a drawer someplace and forget? Did it get sent to the dry cleaners? Maybe it vanished in the clothes dryer, vanquished forever to whatever dimension socks disappear to.

Whatever happened to my youth, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t my fault. I did everything you’re supposed to do. I lived life, abstaining from things like alcohol, drugs, partying, and excesses of all kinds. I worked out, rode a bike, ate the best food I could, maintained a clean, healthy lifestyle and yet one day, poof – it was gone.

But where did it go? Is it like your lap, which, once you stand up, disappears to wherever laps go when they’re not needed? Is youth something you have to manage or tend, like a garden, constantly cultivating it to maintain its productivity? It’s as though someone just snuck in one night while I was sleeping and made off with it like having your newspaper stolen from the front porch.

Preparing to shave I realize that there seems to be more hair than before – but all in the wrong places. At what point does some gene activate that forces the follicles to move from the scalp and infiltrate the ears and nose without mercy? White, wiry, and rampaging like an army of dandelions in the yard, there seems to be no stopping them. Horribly painful but thoroughly useless, yanking them out only seems to quadruple their numbers within moments. Has anybody seen my youth?

I rub my eyes and splash water in my face, hoping the fog will clear. Nope, still blurry. On the counter lay a pair of bifocals with large, metallic rims. Unfolding them, I perch them on my hair-encroached nose and the image clears but makes no move toward beautification. Seriously. Has anybody seen my youth?

Toweling off my face, I return to sit on the edge of the bed, switching on the television news. The perky young anchorwoman is clearly mouthing something but there’s no sound. Hmm, must be a technical difficulty. I click the channel changer and every station seems to have the same issue. People’s lips are moving, but they aren’t saying anything. Even the commercials seem mute. Mute – that was it. Maybe I hit the mute button.

Thumbing the volume I ratchet up the sound, watching the green bar on the display creep ever higher. Fifty, sixty, seventy, at last! Sound! I decide that there must be something wrong with the speaker. The scale only goes to 100. Can it be that loud? Or … what if the new crop of weeds in my ears is deafening me? Breakfast. That’ll help.

In the kitchen, I reach for the cereal box and pour some into a bowl. Opening the refrigerator, I pull out what looks like a milk carton and splash some over the dry, twig-like contents of the bowl. What is this? I stir the spoon around in what could only be described as hay, doused in murky-white water. Yuck. When did I start eating this? Where are the red hearts, yellow moons and green clovers? Where are the marshmallows, the secret prize inside and the colorful cartoon characters smiling from the box label shilling their sugary goodness? All gone. It seems now the only things that snap crackle or pop in the morning are my joints. Has anybody seen my youth?

I know it was here before. I was full of energy, new ideas and visions of the future. I remember just yesterday feeling like I had the world at my feet. Now, I watch as it whizzes past me, like I’m walking backwards on a crowded sidewalk. Has anybody seen my youth?

Ok, they always say when you lose something you will always find it in the last place you look. And sure enough, there it was tucked quietly away in my heart. I guess I had it all the time.

DEER IN HEADLINES is sponsored by:

The Legendary Tales of Sharktooth & Hammer –  The Awakening

By C.C. Christian