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Corona Virus Elderly Issues for the Sandwich Generation
It’s been an interesting few months listening to the news and updates about the Influenza which has now been overtaken by non-stop news and updates about Corona Virus elderly issues and more. As I continue to deal with Sandwich Generation issues in general, including dementia, UTIs, resources etc., my ears doubly perk up when either influenza or Corona Virus elderly issues are mentioned! Swine flu, too, which is being referred to a LOT on TV and news, in spite of it basically ending in 2010. I realized today, it’s all even impacted my brain subconsciously since I gave the game, Pandemic, as a Christmas gift to a couple of sweet nieces and nephews. 🙂
Swine Flu 2009 – 2010
I remember writing about Swine Flu way back in 2009. There was a lot of concern about that one! And yet, it just seemed to fizzle away. That’s because, according to the CDC, Swine Flu had ended by 2010. Hooray! Another good thing about Swine Flu, as I review my notes and websites – it didn’t really seem to impact our beloved elderly – at least, not in the same way as Corona Virus – elderly loved ones appear to be more at risk with it!
The final statistics for Swine Flu, per the CDC in 2013, are:
During the pandemic, CDC provided estimates of the numbers of 2009 H1N1 cases, hospitalizations and deaths on seven different occasions. Final estimates were published in 2011. These final estimates were that from April 12, 2009 to April 10, 2010 approximately 60.8 million cases (range: 43.3-89.3 million), 274,304 hospitalizations (195,086-402,719), and 12,469 deaths (8868-18,306) occurred in the United States due to pH1N1.
According to the CDC, statistics for 2018-2019 influenza are:
CDC estimates that the burden of illness during the 2018–2019 season included an estimated 35.5 million people getting sick with influenza, 16.5 million people going to a health care provider for their illness, 490,600 hospitalizations, and 34,200 deaths from influenza. The number of influenza-associated illnesses that occurred last season was similar to the estimated number of influenza-associated illnesses during the 2012–2013 influenza season when an estimated 34 million people had symptomatic influenza illness.
For this year of 2019-2020, that we are currently in:
So far for this 2019-2020 year, the CDC is estimating approximately 34 million-49 million flu illnesses, 16 million – 23 million flu medical visits, 350,000-620,000 flu hospitalizations, and 20,000 – 52000 flu deaths.
These are JUST estimates and are calculated based on CDC’s weekly influenza surveillance data and are JUST preliminary.
Corona Virus, CoronaVirus, COVID 19, COV-19?
How It Got Its Name?
Similar to the saying about a rose, this disease by any other name is still a nasty virus! And before I get into these statistics, WHAT’S WITH ALL THE DIFFERENT NAMES? Have you also been wondering that? You’d think the Sandwich Generation issues would keep me too busy for that, but obviously it doesn’t. So I’m happy to report to you that I do have some answers.
According to WHO (World Health Organization), official names have been announced for the virus responsible for COVID-19 (previously known as “2019 novel coronavirus”) and the disease it causes. The official names are:
Disease – coronavirus disease
You can read more at WHO to get all the details , but suffice it to say, this is their official name. To be a bit more specific, “Co and Vi come from coronavirus, with D meaning disease and 19 standing for 2019, the year the first cases were seen.” That being said, though, I think the news is liking coronavirus or corona virus best, as that’s what I seem to see the most. How about you?
Statistics for COVID-19 Coronavirus Disease
CDC has a page of the Corona Virus Disease statistics IN AMERICA that states it updates daily. Yesterday’s (3/9/2020) statistics include:
COVID-19: U.S. at a Glance*
Total cases: 423
Total deaths: 19
States reporting cases: 35 (includes District of Columbia)
* Data include both confirmed and presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 reported to CDC or tested at CDC since January 21, 2020, with the exception of testing results for persons repatriated to the United States from Wuhan, China and Japan. State and local public health departments are now testing and publicly reporting their cases. In the event of a discrepancy between CDC cases and cases reported by state and local public health officials, data reported by states should be considered the most up to date.
Person-to-person spread 29
Under Investigation 322
Total cases 423
Today’s results – 3/10/20
Total cases: 647
Total deaths: 25
Jurisdictions reporting cases: 36 (includes District of Columbia)
Person-to-person spread 36
Under Investigation 528
Total cases 647
You might think, why the worry when the numbers are so low? Number 1 – look at the difference in one day. Also, don’t forget, the stats above are just America. Here are some numbers for the whole WORLD:
These are the figures as of yesterday, March 9, 2020 from World Health Organization which posts daily situation reports:
SITUATION IN NUMBERS
Total and new cases in last 24 hours – globally:
- 109,578 confirmed (3,994 new)
- 3,809 deaths (225 new)
Here are the world numbers for today – 3/10/20 – Globally
- 113,702 confirmed (4125 new)
- 4,012 deaths (203 new)
Influenza AND COVID-19 Prevention Tips
Handwashing is being recommended EVERYWHERE for ANY illness! I read one suggestion to make sure you are washing your hands at least 5 times a day! I had to chuckle! As many of us dealing with the Sandwich Generation issues would agree, we wash our hands WAYYYYYY more than that. If it isn’t from helping elderly parents with various issues, then it’s probably because due to diaper changes or lunch clean up.
That being said, I do tend to be a hurrier at everything, including hand washing. And apparently, I should swap the rush out for the CNA training I took, when it comes to handwashing – namely, slow and thorough – 20 seconds at least! One site I saw suggested you sing Happy Birthday twice. 🙂
Here is a fun video geared for our younger kids and grandkids. As you probably know well, they are always experts at sharing ANY germs. So always good to help them remember to wash often and well – just like the rest of us. 🙂
My Biggest Concern? Corona Virus Elderly Issues
One thing I keep hearing/reading as I monitor news updates – the biggest concern for Covid-19 does seem to focus on elderly, though there is quite a difference in how elderly is defined. I’ve seen age 50, 61, 80, 90…. How about you? Definitely would include my beloved elderly. And in the lower ages, it even includes ME! Yikes.
My first tip is DON’T TAKE YOUR TIME to call doctor or pharmacy, even for normal things like prescription refills. I just called my pharmacy with a question I need to ask in order to get a refill for my sweet mom. Normally they might put me on hold for 5-15 minutes. Today, due to Corona Virus phone calls increasing (per their recorded message), I had the option to wait on the phone or let them call me back – in 1-1.5 hours!!!!! I suspect that’s going to be the norm for a while. So if you have a question for the doctor or pharmacy or lab, I would suggest doing it when you think of it unless you really don’t care when you get them. 😉
The CDC has some good tips for us on the people at risk for serious illness:
“Early information out of China, where COVID-19 first started, shows that some people are at higher risk of getting very sick from this illness. This includes:
- Older adults
- People who have serious chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, lung disease…
If a COVID-19 outbreak happens in your community, it could last for a long time. (An outbreak is when a LARGE number of people suddenly get sick.) Depending on how severe the outbreak is, public health officials may recommend community actions to reduce people’s risk of being exposed to COVID-19. These actions can slow the spread and reduce the impact of disease.
If you are at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19, because of your age or serious long-term health problems, you should:
One of the Sandwich Generation issues I deal with is having to keep a variety of age-related products on hand – from Depends to diapers. So think about what your Sandwich Generation family needs over a one month period and stock up on those supplies. Don’t forget things like Poise Pads or Depends Unders for elderly parents and diapers for kids/grandkids, bleach, soap, soup, beans, tortillas, peanut butter, jelly, special medications,
general medications like throat lozenges, tissues, thermometers, acetaminophen, cough medicine, etc. for a prolonged voluntary quarantine.
If you cannot get extra medications, consider using mail-order for medications.
Be sure you have over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies (tissues, etc.) to treat fever and other symptoms. Most people will be able to recover from COVID-19 at home.
- Have enough other household items and groceries on hand so that you will be prepared to stay at home for a period of time.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, or having been in a public place.
- If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol – but realize that is not as effective as regular soap.
- To the extent possible, avoid touching high-touch surfaces in public places – elevator buttons, door handles, handrails, handshaking with people, etc. Use a tissue or your sleeve to cover your hand or finger if you must touch something.
- Wash your hands after touching surfaces in public places.
- Avoid touching your face, nose, eyes, etc.
- Clean and disinfect your home to remove germs: practice routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces (for example: tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks & cell phones)
- Avoid crowds, especially in poorly ventilated spaces. Your risk of exposure to respiratory viruses like COVID-19 may increase in crowded, closed-in settings with little air circulation if there are people in the crowd who are sick.
Make a plan for if you get sick:
- Consult with your health care provider for more information about monitoring your health for symptoms suggestive of corona virus elderly issues.
- Stay in touch with others by phone or email. You may need to ask for help with your Sandwich Generation issues from friends, family, neighbors, community health workers, etc. if you become sick.
- Determine who can provide you with care if your caregiver gets sick – and a plan for caring for your elderly parent if YOU get sick.
Watch for symptoms and emergency warning signs:
Pay attention for potential COVID-19 symptoms including, fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you feel like you are developing symptoms, CALL your doctor. Our doctors’ office is telling us – call the information number FIRST and do as they direct you!
If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately. In adults, emergency warning signs*:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion or inability to arouse
- Bluish lips or face
*This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptom that is severe or concerning.
What to Do if You Get Sick
- Call your healthcare provider and let them know about your symptoms.
- Tell them that you have or may have COVID-19. This will help them take care of you and keep other people from getting infected or exposed.
- If you are not sick enough to be hospitalized, you can recover at home.
- Follow CDC instructions for how to take care of yourself at home.
- Know when to get emergency help
- Get medical attention immediately if you have any of the emergency warning signs listed above.
Family and Caregiver Support for Elderly Parents, Relatives, Neighbors
- Know what medications your loved one is taking and see if you can help them have extras on hand.
- Monitor food and other medical supplies (oxygen, incontinence, dialysis, wound care) needed and create a back-up plan.
- Stock up on non-perishable food items to have on hand in your home to minimize trips to stores.
- Make good use of grocery delivery services from Walmart and local stores, as well as Amazon, Sam’s Club, etc.
- Many of these also offer the opportunity to order online and go pick up – thus saving money AND being around fewer people.
- If you care for a loved one living in a care facility, monitor the situation, ask about the health of the other residents frequently and know the protocol if there is an outbreak.
Out of the Box Preparation for the Sandwich Generation
- Be prepared for a prolonged quarantine in a variety of ways – food, drinks, and meds like I shared above.
- Stock up on activity ideas and games for grandparents and grandkids.
- Jigsaw puzzles for grandparents and grandkids and everyone in between
- Word search, mazes, crossword puzzles
- Educational games to make the most of the moments with the grandkids
- Fun activities elderly seniors enjoy – many of which the grandkids will also enjoy
- Extra batteries, light bulbs, etc.
- Books, Bibles, videos.
Thinking outside the box, including corona virus elderly issues, and stocking up for two-four weeks won’t ever hurt. Plus, you’ll also be prepared for earthquakes and other disasters. And you might even save some money over the months ahead.
More Food for Thought for the Sandwich Generation Issues
What would happen to your beloved elderly if you were sick or quarantined for a couple of weeks – whether due to bronchitis, the influenza, or Corona Virus? What would happen to your elderly loved ones if you died? These are actually important thoughts even without corona virus in the equation. Just as I had prepared with will, emergency releases, guardian plans for my kids when they were young, we need to take precautions for our elderly parents or other relatives in case something happens to us for a long period of time or forever.
As mentioned above, online shopping can be a big help! It would be wise now to set up shopping accounts with a couple of places if you don’t already have them so you could have necessary products sent to them if you can’t get out to get them. As I’ve learned over the years, this is true whether it’s a broken ankle, bronchitis, influenza, or corona virus. Elderly parents – whether they live with us in our home or we are overseeing their care in an assisted living or other care home often depend on us to do their shopping and a couple of weeks is a LONG time. I have personally experienced the first two. Bronchitis only kept me home for a couple weeks but that broken leg kept me home for a couple of months which is the way I first discovered shopping from home from my grocery store as it was just starting up. It was a huge blessing and I am forever grateful to Safeway and other stores that provide that option to us.
Yes we definitely need to watch what’s going on with Corona Virus elderly issues in general that are currently unknown. But it’s also good to deal with the known issues like influenza! Make sure you get that flu vaccine if your health allows. And YES, I say that even though I really HATE shots. But after learning these statistics about influenza, I must say, I will not argue with myself over a flu shot ever again! I realize it’s not perfect and doesn’t protect everyone but still it has been shown to save many MANY lives! So I do strongly recommend it, other health and issues permitting.
There’s another even more important final food for thought. If you did get Corona Virus elderly or not, and you were to die, do you know where you’re going? I do and because of that I’m doing fine through all this panic and worry. Even with that confidence, I really appreciated the words of encouragement from Pastor Joe Focht on this very topic. Whether you are saved or not, I highly recommend you click on this and listen. It is very encouraging and needed for all ages – from our elderly parents to all of us boomers and all the way down to our grandkids – in fact for all of us dealing with the sandwich generation issues of life. 🙂
Here is a Bible Memory Verse page and coloring page for our kids and grandkids – the clip art is from Edu-Clips.com – I LOVE her pictures, don’t you?
A Few More Interesting Resources on Covid-19
- For older kids and grandkids – Solve the Outbreak, Become a Disease Detective
- CDC shortcut to information – CoronaVirus.gov
- Would you like weekly email updates from CDC on Corona Virus?
- The Coronavirus, by the Numbers – A mathematician who studies the spread of disease explains some of the figures that keep popping up in coronavirus news. Magazine Article from the New York Times.
- Bill Gates – TED Talk on the Next Outbreak – recorded 4 years ago
- Frequently Asked Questions and Answers: Coronavirus Disease-2019 (COVID-19) and Children
- Will coronavirus kill you? Why fatality rates for COVID-19 vary wildly depending on age, gender, medical history and country
Influenza? COVID-19? Thoughts?
Right now, influenza is still way more dangerous than COVID-19, but obviously that can change dramatically! Either way, being prepared, taking good precautions like washing your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds or more, calling your doctor if you have a specific concern, and staying up-to-date on information will help us for either of these nasty viruses AND help us to take good care of our kids and grandkids AND our elderly parents. How about you? What are your thoughts on this – the latest of the Sandwich Generation issues we have to deal with? We’d love to hear your thoughts, tips, etc. – either in the comments below or at Facebook.