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Knowing how to protect yourself and loved ones during a respiratory virus pandemic when you are an older adult or managing a chronic illness can be overwhelming. As healthcare professionals in the East Texas community, A Pineywoods Home Health’s mission is to provide medically accurate information to our elderly and chronic disease populations and quality healthcare in the comfort and safety of your home.

First, if you are managing a chronic illness make sure you are stocked on all medications needed in your home for the next 30 to 60 days. If you are in need of a refill you should contact your doctor or pharmacy. If you are in need of assistance to obtain your medication, health care professionals are available in the community to assist you. Our home health staff assist patients with medication management by picking up prescriptions from the pharmacy and initiating education and administration of medication in the home under the care of your physician.

Second, if you are diagnosed with one of the following identified chronic medical conditions: heart disease, diabetes, or lung disease, take extra precaution during this pandemic event. This includes, limiting unnecessary travel outside your home over the next 14 days to eight weeks, and making sure your home is prepared. Home precautions for self-quarantine include:

■ Have enough household items and groceries in the home to maintain dietary needs and a clean, infection free space for a period of time.

■ Clean and disinfect your home. It is important to remove germs, which can transmit infection by cleaning surfaces that are frequently touched by you and others, this includes: door handles, light switches, toilets, faucets, phones, and cell phones.

■ Wash your hands. With soap, and often. To properly wash your hands, use soap and water rubbing your hands together, covering the front and backs of your hands, up to your wrist with a thick lather for at least 20 seconds. Use a paper towel to dry your hands if available.

■ Practice respiratory hygiene. If you are currently suffering from allergies or respiratory illness make sure to cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue and wash your hands immediately after. If you have fever greater than 100.4, notify your doctor or nurse and try to distance yourself from others.

■ Read Information from TRUSTED sources. There is a lot of misinformation and rumors about the COVID-19 pandemic. It is important to consult trusted sources for information, this includes:

■ The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 website www.coronavirus.gov.

■ Texas Department of State Health Services COVID-19 website: https://www.dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus/

Third, if you are elderly you are at higher risk for contracting the COVID-19 virus. It is unclear why certain populations are more affected by the virus, but it is certain if you are over the age of 60 you are at a higher risk. The best way to protect yourself and others is to limit any crowds or public outings unless medically necessary. Your medical needs can be met in the home by health care providers offering skilled nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, social worker, and caregiver services. In addition, many physicians are now offering telemedicine visits over a smart phone or smart device so you can be seen by your primary physician without exposure to a waiting room. Our agency provides healthcare professionals in the home to assist with telemedicine visits by capturing vital signs, medical information, and collecting specimens for testing of respiratory illness by laboratories when ordered by your physician.

Lastly, you or a loved one can have COVID-19 before feeling any symptoms. The best thing for friends, family and neighbors to do is keep a safe distance of at least 6-feet from any vulnerable populations and practice safe hygiene. If you do begin to exhibit symptoms, including: dry cough, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, pressure or chest pain, and fever, immediately contact your doctor.

A Pineywoods Home Health Care is a 5-out-of-5 star rated for Quality of Patient Care, Medicare Certified, Home Health Agency serving East Texas. A Pineywoods Home Health Care is locally owned and operated, serving 51 counties in East Texas, headquartered in Lufkin, Texas. Contact us for more information about how we can care for you or your loved ones during this time of uncertainty.