Many are currently panic buying large quantities of hand sanitizer and antibacterial hand washes. This has raised the false flag that these are the only way to protect ourselves. Regular handwashing with soap and water is the best way to protect yourself from the COVID-19 virus.
This article explains why soap and water are so effective in killing the virus. The short version, however, is that viral cells are surrounded by a layer of fats (lipids).
When we clean our greasy dishes, the combination of soap and water cut through the fat. Leaving the plate squeaky clean. In the same way, soap and water destroy the fatty outer layer of viral cells. Meaning that soap and water literally tear the virus apart.
We recommend washing your hands:
- After going outside, especially if you have used public transport or visited your local pharmacy or grocery store
- After using the bathroom or changing the diaper of a child or grandchild
- Before and after handling raw foods like meat or vegetables
- Before eating
- After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
- After accepting a package or delivery
- Before and after treating a cut or wound
- After touching pets or their food. While pets do not carry the virus it’s good practice to do this anyway.
To self-isolate or not to self-isolate?
Self-isolation is a point of confusion when it comes to Coronavirus and older adults in the US. Unlike many other countries, the US has not yet officially gone into lockdown.
Still, many of our readers have chosen to self-isolate to minimize their exposure to others. We highly recommend this behavior. It is the best way to limit your exposure to the virus and reduce your risk of passing it on. Remember, you can be a carrier but not have any symptoms.
If everyone commits to doing this, we can flatten the curve and prevent the virus from tearing through our population. Especially in our most densely populated cities and towns. However, we realize that this may be easier for some readers than others. We’ll discuss your concerns about work and jobs shortly.
If we could reduce our Coronavirus guide for seniors to one sentence it would be this:
Stay indoors unless absolutely necessary!
Going outside: How often should you do it and what precautions should you take?
How active should you be right now? It’s an important question for older adults that want to avoid Coronavirus. Staying active and enjoying a wide range of activities is crucial to the enjoyment of senior living. Not least of which is a daily constitutional. Our readers are happy to make lifestyle concessions for the good of the nation. It’s not the first time for many of them. Still, we understand that being cooped up at home isn’t always conducive to our mental or physical health.
We suggest taking a page out of the playbooks of other countries and limiting trips outside to:
- 1 walk per day to get a daily dose of exercise
- Limited trips to the grocery store or pharmacy to buy essentials (these should be limited as much as possible)
- Essential work
- Providing care or assistance to someone more vulnerable than yourself
What about pets?
Some readers may be concerned about walking their dog or letting their adventurous cat into the home. The good news is that there’s no evidence that household pets can catch or transmit the Coronavirus. The World Organization for Animal Health has recently announced that “there is no justification in taking measures against companion animals which may compromise their welfare”.
When going outside, you can mitigate your risk by taking the following precautions:
Remember the 6-foot rule
The evidence states that COVID-19 infected droplets can’t travel more than roughly 2 meters / 6 feet. Remain at least 6 feet from others at all times. This is one of the most important rules in our Coronavirus guide for seniors!
There’s some evidence to suggest that the virus can live on clothes and shoes. How long is still unclear. We recommend wearing different clothes for indoors and outdoors. Remove your shoes before you go inside. This will avoid tracking in potentially infected dirt. Remember to launder your clothes regularly after wearing them.
We recommend wearing gloves when outside and avoiding touching barriers and guardrails where possible. Using a walking stick or frame? Wipe it down with an antibacterial wipe before and after going out.
Many of our readers are unsure whether or not to wear surgical masks when outside. Some may worry about getting funny looks from neighbors. Others may have heard that masks will do nothing to prevent transmission of the virus.
Studies actually show that wearing a mask can block airborne droplets and increase your protection from the virus by up to 500%. It can also prevent you from unknowingly passing the virus to others if you’re infected but without symptoms. It’s not a magic bullet against the virus. However, it’s a good precaution to take if you’re in a busy environment or looking after a vulnerable loved one.