Elderly persons here, although they tend to be at a greater risk for acquiring COVID-19 infections, need not do anything more than the general public by way of lessening the potential for these risks. So said career general practitioner Dr. Michael Goodluck while he explained to Asbert News Network several things geriatric care providers ought to know as they work to prevent the eventuality of an infected ward.
“What is difficult with the virus is that it’s difficult to fight something that you cannot see. People need to understand that when you’re in the open air – like in public, in the hot sun walking around – you don’t get the virus that way. It’s not really in the air floating around per say because the sunlight which is our greatest disinfectant, nature’s greatest disinfectant, probably the world’s greatest disinfectant; the UV rays break down the viruses.
“You have to come in direct contact with somebody, touch their face and so forth, come into contact with dirty surfaces because the virus can stay on dirty surfaces for like 9 days in the case of corona.
“So you always have to have that barrier. Wear masks only if you’re sick. The thing about wearing masks, most people just cover their nose and their mouth. You can also get the virus through your eyes as well. Those are the three areas. So you have to wear goggles too.
“Sometimes the mask could be a bit of a waste of time really and truly. More recommended for persons if you’re the one who is actually sick. Lots of fluids, if they have sore throat let them gargle with warm vinegar or very warm salt water. And let them drink lots of fluids.”
This, the venerable doctor said, would “wash the virus down into the stomach where it could be destroyed by the low pH content of the stomach. Wash their hands, shower them and make sure you clean them and disinfect all surfaces because their systems are compromised for many different reasons apart from age, chronic disease etc. so keep their environments nice and clean … and you’ll just decrease the chance of [getting them] infected with the coronavirus. ”
Dr. Goodluck noted several of the challenges faced as people the world-over battle against the now infamous COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s difficult out there because you don’t have to show symptoms to transmit the virus. You can look ‘otherwise healthy,’ and you can transmit the virus. So again that makes it so difficult, so difficult.
“The elderly, as much as they can, we know some of them have joint pains they would not be able to readily raise their elbows to their faces and cough in their cubital fossa (flexed elbow) like a young, fit person. So that’s where it is too but you have to still tell them how to cough and of a system in disposing of [used] tissues.”
As for the elderly with mental health challenges, “they would have to be constantly supervised; they would have to be constantly cleaned. Soap and water is still our best disinfectant out there in closed spaces.
“Just follow these necessary steps and you can significantly decrease the chances of inoculation and transmission even.”
Sparing a word for the importance of “proper nutrition” to our country’s senior citizens’ immune system, he said:
“They are to be properly nourished. Let them eat very healthily. A healthy body, a well-nourished body, a well-hydrated body will be able to fight off any disease. Whether it’s corona or whatever organism may inoculate the human form.”
Dr. Goodluck’s career has spanned over 25 years in active practice having completed an elderly care management diploma, as part of his medical studies. Over the last 15 years his private clinic has been augmented by “district work” across St. Vincent and the Grenadines with wide-ranging work experience “in all departments in medicine.”
Symptoms of a possible coronavirus infection in elderly persons are not unlike those that younger adults would show, if infected, he told us.
“The common ones are pain in the throat, fever, they may have a cough or pains to the joints, generalized body aches or feeling of tiredness.
But Dr. Goodluck warned, “you might more see the elderly with a fever, complaining that they feel very tired and weak. That might be masked by the fact that sometimes they may look that way or may have that sort of demeanor even without being infected.
“Sometimes our elderly tend to look very lethargic and you have to discern whether or not they’re sick or if it’s just an integral part of their aging.
“But you look for things like a fever, if they’re complaining of having a painful throat or dryness to the throat, if they start coughing or sneezing a lot or complaining of generalized body aches more than what is normally observed.”
Knowing the client under your care is just as essential as knowing what symptoms to look, the doctor urged.
“The elderly normally complain of a lot of body aches and pains because of things like osteoarthritis, rheumatism etc.
“So some of these [conditions] might co-exist. You have to be vigilant and observe certain changes you knew were not there.
“You have to know who you are dealing with; you have to know the elderly who come under your care so that you could be able to differentiate any pre-existing conditions.”
Goodluck again stressed that persons ought to remember “that the virus is not airborne… it is very fragile like lots of viruses. It is very fragile and could easily be destroyed especially with heat.
“That’s why we always stress the therapies now that allow you to inhale hot air, drink lots of hot fluids. Persons who you suspect are infected can get into hot tubs, into steam rooms and inhale the steam, the hot air.”
These measures can help to kill the virus the doctor disclosed while reminding us that “education is key” in this anti COVID-19 fight. He also encouraged that caregivers find resource persons who can help them to answer any concerns as presented by the clients or their families.
Locally, persons can call 1 784 534 (HEAL) 4325 or email [email protected] for officially sourced information through the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment.
“In terms of institutions for elderly care – elderly care homes or nursing homes – persons have to be vigilant and adhere to certain standards with respect to visitors entering the homes.
“They must adhere to certain guidelines because persons can come into the homes and the viruses can be transmitted and can infect the clients.
“Strict guidelines must be adhered to. Persons must be able to wash their hands and disinfect because it can be transferred to doorknobs, pushing the door, the rails and the areas where the elderly must hold on for their balance when they are ambulating. That is very important.
“You must adhere to protocol and strict guidelines and these things must be properly supervised because that’s how the clients at the homes are going to get it – they are not going out most of them are in, so whatever infection is there is coming in to meet these clients.
“So we have to be their keeper and the management teams, in charge of the homes, should always make sure that they themselves as well as the visitors adhere to the guidelines as stipulated for the prevention and transmission of the COVID-19.”