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Commentary: COVID-19 questions and answers for seniors

Age Friendly Committee of the Olds Institute offers advice

The Canadian and Alberta governments’ imposed strategies to reduce the spread of COVID-19 with its potentially serious consequences.  

Once the virus is controlled, some restrictions will be reduced.  

However, there will continue to be questions about the need for restrictions or the fear of having restrictions lifted.  

Dr. Theresa Tam, the Canadian chief medical officer of health, explains daily that COVID-19 is a new virus about which the scientists are still learning.  

Since the virus is new, there is no treatment and no vaccine.  

When COVID-19 started, there was no screening tool to predict who might develop the disease or who might be a carrier.  

It was estimated that nearly 80 per cent of those who had the disease did not require special treatment.  However, these fortunate victims could spread the disease without necessarily feeling ill.  

It is not known when a safe and effective vaccine will be developed.  

Ask your family doctor or pharmacist before trying any product that purports to be a vaccine, a medication or even a product that can prevent or treat COVID-19.  
We may be asked to continue with practising physical distancing in some circumstances. If so:

• You do not need to remain indoors, but you do need to avoid close contact with people.

• Keep six feet from others (a hockey stick length)

• Limit the number of times you leave your home, including grocery shopping.

• You may walk in our parks if you remember to maintain the safe distance

• No more than 15 people in a group if you can remain six feet from each other

• Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds when you touch your face, mask, door knobs, grocery carts, or if you cough or sneeze, etc.  

Social isolation is different. Those who have COVID-19 symptoms, but have tested negative for the virus i.e. fever, cough, shortness of breath, runny nose, sore throat need to practise social isolation for 10 days.   

Isolation includes not going outside, except in your private backyard, avoiding contact with anyone, including those in your house as much as possible and not using common elevators or stairwells in apartment buildings.  

Those who have tested positive for the virus and have been exposed need to self isolate for 14 days or until the symptoms disappear.  

If you can, go online to Alberta Health Services and complete the self-assessment.  Call Health Link at 811 with questions.  

Anyone with severe symptoms of COVID-19  -- difficulty breathing, severe chest pain,  feelings of confusion or loss of consciousness -- call 911.  

It is important for everyone to understand that it is safe to go to emergency departments as you would normally with a serious illness.  

All medical personnel are well trained in preventing you and other ill patients from catching viruses.  

Preventing social isolation

It is difficult for anyone to remain alone, even at home, for any length of time.  

We need to interact with others, even if only for a short length of time.  One suggestion is to make a schedule for yourself including exercise time. Schedule time to make phone calls, even if it is to someone you have not spoken to for a long while.

We are fortunate to have excellent resources available.    

Call the Town of Olds Great Neighbours Program at 403-438-0039 and leave a message.  

Since the staff are working from home, please leave a message and you will receive great information about seniors programs including Senior Centre Without Walls.

Call the Peaks to Prairies PCN seniors health nurse who is working from home at 403-586-0722 Tuesday to Thursday and leave a message.    

She has information about the Healthy Aging Clinic, Seniors Centre Without Walls and the Alzheimer’s Society (also,  Keep safe everyone!

Age Friendly Committee of the Olds Institute