The coronavirus pandemic is a serious concern for people in all age groups, but especially for the elderly and those with underlying health problems such as diabetes, lung, and heart issues. While the medical community works on the development of a vaccine, there are ways for you to avoid exposure to the virus and to stay healthy. In particular, there are five everyday precautions that seniors, caregivers, and Medicare recipients of all ages can practice to protect themselves.
Five Daily Practices to Stay Healthy
1. Wash Hands
Our hands are continuously exposed to impurities and germs in the air, and from dirty surfaces. Washing your hands frequently with soap and warm water for a minimum of 20 seconds can lower your risk of infection. When you are not near soap and water, you can clean your hands with a hand sanitizer containing 60 percent alcohol. Washing your hands is recommended for the following situations.
• Before and after touching your face, eyes, and nose
• After coughing or sneezing
• Before food preparation and eating
• After using the bathroom
• After handling or touching animals
• After leaving public places like workplaces, grocery stores, pharmacies, and doctor offices
• After caring for other individuals, especially anyone who is sick
• After handling any trash or touching a dirty surface
2. Wear a Face Mask
Wearing a cloth face mask is a responsible way to prevent the spread of the virus. It allows you to be around other people without risking their health or your health from respiratory mists produced when someone talks, coughs, or sneezes. It is not necessary to wear a face mask around healthy members of your household. But wear a face mask if you are caring for or living with someone who is sick. People with breathing problems may not be able to wear a face mask and they need to stay at home to avoid infection.
3. Clean Surfaces
All surfaces are exposed to airborne impurities and to normal accumulation of dirt, dust, and germs. Surfaces that are not frequently touched such as bookcases or items in a closet can be routinely cleaned. However, a good daily practice is to clean and disinfect all surfaces that are touched frequently. First, clean the surfaces with soap and water, then follow that cleaning with a household disinfectant. The following is a list of the typical surfaces most commonly touched on a daily basis.
• Doorknobs, car handles, and steering wheels
• Cabinet and closet handles
• Tables and desks
• Light switches
• Water faucets, sinks, and toilets
• Electronic devices including phones, cellphones, keyboards, remote controls
• Washers and dryers
• Wastebaskets and trash cans
• Hard floors and carpeted areas
4. Check Temperature
In addition to being alert to the development of virus symptoms such as shortness of breath or a new cough, monitoring bodily temperature is a good daily practice. You can help maintain your good health by checking the temperature before anyone comes into your home, even a caregiver. If your caregiver has a temperature, tell them not to come inside. If you are caring for a family member who is sick, be sure to monitor their temperature and yours on a daily basis.
5. Safe Distancing
Seniors and individuals with underlying health issues are advised to stay at home as much as possible. If you must go outside, practice safe distancing by wearing a cloth face mask and staying six feet away from other people. If someone in your home is sick, try to keep at least six feet of distance between this person and other members in the home. If you need to care for a sick household member, wear a cloth face mask when tending to their needs, wash your hands and face afterward, and try to maintain a reasonable distance between caring for them.
Medicare Benefits Available During Coronavirus Pandemic
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has responded to the need for expanded benefits for Medicare recipients with Parts A and B.
1. Telehealth Visits
Seniors who need to see their healthcare providers can avoid the risk of exposure at a doctor’s office by taking advantage of a telehealth visit via electronics or a telephone visit for consultations. These forms of communications are covered during the coronavirus pandemic.
2. Urgent Care Visits
If a visit to an Urgent Care center resulted in a positive finding for the coronavirus, the cost is covered Medicare.
3. Virus Testing and Hospitalization
Coverage for virus testing costs became available as of February 4, 2020. The cost related to virus hospitalization, including isolation and quarantine, and treatment costs are covered by Medicare.
Individuals with Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage plans may have additional Medicare benefits . If you are enrolled in a Medicare Part D or MA plan offered by a private insurance company, you may have additional coverage for cover prescription medications, vaccinations when available, meal deliveries, medical and grocery store transportation, and an allowance for non-prescription medications and supplies. Check with your plan directly for more information.