During this turbulent, uncertain time, all older adults should be equipped with the best information possible to ensure they are keeping themselves and their loved ones safe. There is a vast amount of advice available, but it’s important to sift out the facts from the fiction and focus on what’s most important.

Here are three ways for older adults to stay safe, sane and healthy during the COVID-19 outbreak:

Practice Social Distancing

There’s been a lot of talk about “social distancing,” but what does that really mean?

The CDC defines social distancing as it relates to COVID-19 as “remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible.” This not only helps keep you at a lower risk of getting the virus, but also, if you are carrying it, reduces the risk of you sharing it with others. This should be strictly followed by older adults that are 60 years or older, due to the possibility of developing a more serious case of COVID-19.

You may have standard check-ups, elective surgeries, or other important appointments on the horizon. If you can avoid leaving your home, you should do so. Call your healthcare provider about any upcoming appointments to see what their policies and guidelines are. In most states, elective surgeries are postponed right now, and many types of appointments, such as dermatology exams and physical therapy, are moving to telemedicine. Whenever you can, you should consider doing video calls or rescheduling appointments.

Groceries are a natural concern for some people hoping to practice social distancing. When possible, consider having the items delivered or see if a family member, friend or caregiver can help. You can also consider online delivery options, which USA Today recently outlined.

Ensure You’re Taking Necessary Basic Health Precautions

Now more than ever, it’s crucial that you take the necessary precautions to ensure your safety. Older adults should keep these recommendations top-of-mind in their daily activities:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water and for at least 20 seconds. Here is the simple, five-step process that will ensure your hands are clean.
  • If soap isn’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.
  • If you have to cough or sneeze, do so into a tissue or into your elbow. Avoid using your hand.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces in your home such as tables, countertops, doorknobs, etc.
  • Avoid touching your face as often as you can.

While these recommendations will lower your risk of getting COVID-19, they won’t completely protect you from it.

Symptoms of the virus include fever, shortness of breath or dry cough. If you think you have the novel coronavirus or have been exposed to someone who has it, stay home and call your physician for medical advice. Your physician may advise that you stay home until you recover. If your symptoms are more severe, you may need to go to the hospital so healthcare providers can monitor your condition.

Keep yourself physically and mentally active

Even with all of the closures, social distance and disruption to daily life caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, there has to be some room for fun, laughter and smiles. That’s a good thing. We recommend that you find ways to stay physically and mentally active during this naturally isolating and difficult time.

Try to take breaks from consuming the news and social media. Reading, listening and watching the constant news related to COVID-19 can be upsetting and exhausting. Give yourself time away from the screen or paper to reset.

Now is the perfect time to take care of your body as well as your mind. Eat well-balanced meals, exercise if you can, stretch, meditate and get plenty of sleep. These activities will keep you occupied and help with the social isolation that you might be feeling.

Staying mentally active is another vital part of navigating this unprecedented time. Whether it be listening to music, such as the Musicians on Call “Healing Power of Music” playlist, doing puzzles, or connecting with others over video chat, these activities will help you get through this challenging time.

We’re all in this together

People across the world are hurting, and no one knows exactly what the future holds. However, the redeeming factor is that this virus is teaching us how to care for one another in different ways. Sometimes, you have to go backwards to move forward. And that’s what we’ll do.

If you would like to learn more about what Chicago Methodist Senior Services is doing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and also help those in our communities, you can check out The COVID-19 page on our website.