The Family Doctors Plus team have compiled their top tips for older Australians during the Coronavirus Pandemic.
Please note: Care is taken to have the latest up to date information, however this is not always possible due to the speed that the situation is changing. We always recommend you call your doctor and speak to them about your specific concerns. Please ring 000 in an emergency.
People over the age of 70 (especially those with chronic diseases) and people over the age of 60 with chronic diseases are at increased risk of poor outcomes if infected with Coronavirus. This is why it is
important to listen to advice regarding reducing the risk of spread. The WHO/World Health Organisation has declared a pandemic. If you haven’t prepared for this, now
is the time to act.
- Ensure you have enough food and essentials to last you for 2 weeks. If not, consider online shopping or asking a family member to assist you with this so you can avoid busy shopping centres.
- Ensure you have enough medication to last your one month. Check your regular medications as well as any extras you may need. Eg inhalers if you have lung disease.
- Find out how your GP is preparing for the pandemic. Is it possible to ring them and do consultations over the phone instead of going in? Can you ring and request your scripts be faxed to your pharmacy? Can your pharmacy deliver medications to your home? Consider switching to telephone appointments with your GP and home delivery from your pharmacy so that you can avoid crowded areas.
- Do you babysit grandchildren? If so, consider the fact that children can transmit the virus even though they may have very few symptoms themselves. Ask their parents to consider other arrangements. This is especially important in the event of school closures.
- Are you familiar with the use of Skype, face time, or other methods of online communication? These are great ways of keeping in touch with the family during social distancing. Perhaps ask a family member to show you how to use these now.
- Have the annual influenza vaccination as soon as it is available. Please note there is a special influenza vaccine for people over the age of 65. This is a more potent version than the one used for younger people.
- Is your pneumococcal vaccine up to date? If you haven’t had it in the last 5 years and are over 65, or have some chronic illnesses you will need a booster. It can be given at the same time as the influenza vaccine. The influenza vaccine will be available in the next few weeks.
- The Australian Chief Medical Officer was on the ABC Insiders program on 15/3/2020 requesting older Australians avoid non-essential outings to crowded areas eg the cinema. Events with crowds over 500 people have been cancelled. However, older Australians need to be more careful and avoid all non-essential outings. These may include shopping centres, group events such as concerts, etc.
- Ask your family members to not visit you if they are unwell, or have any symptom including a snotty nose; if they have travelled outside Australia in the last 14 days; or if they have had contact with a person who has been diagnosed with or is suspected to have Coronavirus. You may want to ask them to cancel all family gatherings from now. You should consider cancelling visitors and catch up with them via the phone or internet.
- Social distancing. Maintain a distance of at least 1.5m from other people. Avoid shaking hands.
- Hand washing. Ensure adequate hygiene. The WHO has great videos on hand-washing and hand rubbing with hand sanitizer technique. Be aware that the virus can live on surfaces such as door handles. Hence the importance of regular hand hygiene, especially before eating. Avoid touching your face. Did you know that humans touch their faces thousands of time a day?
- Observe cough etiquette. Cough into a tissue and throw it in the bin straight away, or into your elbow. Wash your hands.
- If you develop symptoms (eg fevers, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat) and are concerned ring 000 in an emergency, otherwise ring your GP. Please ring your GP first, they will give you instructions on what the next steps will be.