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Tips to care for someone with COVID-19

Find out how to care for a loved one with COVID-19 while keeping yourself safe

There’s no doubt everyone has developed new skills or taken on new responsibilities since the pandemic began. Some parents have become teachers. Some people have mastered online grocery shopping. Many have done both while also taking on the role as a caregiver for a loved one who has been sick with COVID-19.

In fact, according to a recent Health of America report, 55% of current caregivers would not have identified as caregivers before COVID-19. And 61% of Americans are worried about having to take care of a friend, neighbor or family member with COVID-19.

We understand. Caring for someone who has COVID-19 comes with many challenges. How do you stay healthy while providing care for someone with a highly contagious virus? Here are some tips to keep in mind.

Tips to care for your loved one

1. Determine a quarantine area

This sick room space should be reserved for the person who has been diagnosed with COVID-19. All others should occupy this space as little as possible, according to the CDC. Make sure your loved one is comfortable. Ensure that the space has a bed and necessary items to aide in their recovery.

2. Cover basic needs

When someone is sick with COVID-19, the best thing they can do is get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids. Make sure the person you’re caring for has the supplies needed to do just that. By picking up over-the-counter medications and groceries, you can help them follow the doctor’s instructions for care.

3. Help track symptoms and know the warning signs

COVID-19 symptoms can progress quickly, so it’s important to observe if your loved one is getting sicker. Any signs of difficulty breathing, persistent chest pain, inability to wake up, or bluish lips or face are all signs that emergency medical care may be needed. Have the doctor’s phone number handy. Be ready to call their physician or 911 if symptoms get severe.

A timeline of COVID-19 symptoms

While everyone experiences illness differently, researchers and physicians have seen some trends in the course of disease for COVID-19.

From initial symptoms to recovery, this timeline of COVID symptoms can help you know what to expect if you or a loved one tests positive for the virus.

Tips to take care of yourself

1. Limit contact when possible

While it’s important to provide care for your loved one, you also need to protect yourself. One of the best ways to do that is to remain as socially distant as possible. It’s inevitable that you’ll encounter your loved one. But when you do, make sure you are wearing a face covering. Wear protective gloves when handling items your loved one has touched. This is the best way to reduce your exposure.

2. Keep items separate

When someone is sick, the fewer items you can share the better. Try to keep all personal items separate, including things like phone chargers, remote controls and dishes.

3. Clean, clean, clean

Areas that are highly occupied should be cleaned daily. This includes countertops, doorknobs, bathrooms, and light switches. An everyday home disinfectant should work as a cleaning product.

4. Track your health

Make sure you keep tabs on your own health while caring for your loved one. If you begin to show symptoms, contact your primary care doctor and set up a virtual appointment through video or over the phone.

5. Stay home

While you may not have a COVID-19 diagnosis, your chance of exposure is high. That means you could be contagious even if you aren’t experiencing symptoms. Keep others safe by staying at home until you and your loved one are symptom free and test negative.

Caring for a loved one always comes with challenges, but COVID-19 has magnified them. For more information and tips on how to stay safe while providing care, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions website.

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