There’s a lot of anxiety around the coronavirus and the spread of COVID-19. Obviously, at The Heritage of Green Hills, we are focused on senior wellness and protecting our residents. We’re vigilant in our efforts to stop the spread of the virus, and we couldn’t fight it so successfully without the help of our residents. All our efforts are ongoing, and we also recommend some very simple things to do to reduce your risk of contracting the disease.
1. Keep your distance.
Social distancing isn’t easy, but it is one of the most important safety precautions we can take to slow the spread of COVID-19. Most often, this disease spreads between people who have been in close contact, and it can be transmitted when an infected person sneezes, coughs or even talks.
You may think, “I’ll just stay away from people who seem sick,” but the other person could be infected and not showing symptoms yet, or they could be asymptomatic but still able to infect others. Since we can’t easily determine by sight who is carrying the disease, we have to keep a healthy distance from anyone outside our own households, which unfortunately requires adjusting some of our favorite activities for seniors.
Maintaining a safe distance, according to the CDC, means keeping at least six feet between you and other people, more if they’re coughing or sneezing. Stay away from large crowds and gatherings, and don’t gather in groups.
Humans are still social creatures, even when we have to practice social distancing, so many people have begun initiating more phone calls, video chats, emails, texting — using all available means to connect with loved ones while protecting our health and theirs. Your social wellness is still important to your well-being. Try to find solutions that work for you.
2. Wash your hands.
Germs can spread from your hands to any surface they touch — your face, your food, your clothes, objects in your home, your steering wheel, etc. But handwashing can dissolve the lipid casing around the virus, so it can’t infect you. Also, thorough washing and scrubbing can leave your skin slippery, making it harder for germs to keep hold.
A quick splash in the sink won’t protect you from germs. Be sure to wet your hands in cold or warm water — the temperature doesn’t make a significant difference. Lather the entirety of your hands and scrub for 20 seconds. Rinse well, and dry with a clean towel.
For the most benefits, experts advise washing your hands for at least 20 seconds. The common aide to help us meet that benchmark is singing “Happy Birthday” twice. But that can get very repetitive when we’re washing our hands so often. Here are some of alternative tunes to hum while scrubbing:
· The chorus of “Jolene” by Dolly Parton
· “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”
· “This Little Light of Mine”
· The chorus of “Do Re Mi” from “The Sound of Music”
· “This Land Is Your Land. This Land Is My Land.”
3. Avoid touching your face.
Bringing your hands to your face increases the likelihood that germs will make it into your system. All humans have impulses to touch their faces, but do your best not to. If you have an itch, use the back of your arm or your shoulder.
4. Eat healthy.
Fruits and vegetables will provide the nutrients you need to boost your immune system. Vitamins, antioxidants and fiber help keep your body functioning well so it can fight off infection. While you’re considering your food intake, think about hydration as well. Water is vital to almost all of the healthy functions of your body, making it an indispensable part of senior wellness. Drink water regularly throughout the day, and include foods like salad, cucumbers, celery and watermelon in your diet — they offer a lot of water as well.
5. Cultivate good feelings.
Staying positive doesn’t mean you have to ignore everything that’s troubling or worrying. You don’t have to turn off your sense of reason. It simply means that you look for the good in your current situation and you expect more good things to come in the future.
Positivity is a practice that brings health benefits, including lower blood pressure, greater immunity and lower levels of depression. You can consider it part of your health care routine to smile, to appreciate the blessings in your life, to find humor in many situations, and to imagine happy days in the future.
6. Work in workouts.
It’s true that regular exercise builds strength and improves balance, but it also raises your mood, battles depression, increases energy levels and helps you sleep better. Each of these benefits will help you in this unique time of social distancing. If you have access to spacious outdoor routes, a walk outside provides exercise as well as vitamin D, which also boosts mood and energy levels.
If you don’t have an outdoor space that offers you room to maintain social distance, you can still find things to do. There are great at-home workouts online, or you can simply walk around your residence. As long as you’re raising your heart rate and moving your muscles, you’ll reap the rewards.
7. Clean your space.
Keeping a tidy residence can help with your mental health, and keeping your space free of germs is very important to avoid the virus. Use disinfecting wipes to clean handles, light switches, toilets, sinks, remotes — anything that’s regularly touched. You may also want to wipe down any mail or packages you receive. Even these simple actions can help you avoid dangerous germs.
We know this is a stressful time for our residents and their families, so at The Heritage, we’re doing everything we can to foster connection, create opportunities for fun and offer support. We held a short story writing contest among our residents and offered a $1,000 grand prize. We helped residents set up video chats so they could catch up with their families and friends. And we created additional walking paths and outdoor seating areas so our residents could safely enjoy the sunshine.
And our residents have used their time and talents to promote safety and support The Heritage team. The sewing group created hundreds of face masks. The support group offered loving gestures to recent widows. And residents sent thank-you notes to hardworking team members in paper airplanes flown off their balconies and in chalk messages around the campus. We could not be prouder of how the community has rallied together during this challenging time.
If you’d like to find out more about The Heritage of Green Hills’ response to COVID-19, or if you’d like to find out about how we’re adjusting our calendar of activities for seniors in light of the pandemic, feel free to reach out to us. We’d be happy to provide more details.