At any given time of the day, you can turn on the news and hear about this awful coronavirus also referred to as COVID-19. Whatever you call it, it’s just plain awful. With the recommendation to stay inside as much as possible, lots of seniors are concerned about going to needed doctor appointments or doing recommended health maintenance such as blood work or X-rays.
There is one option you can chose for the utmost safety depending on what you need your doctor for. I personally have used an online doctor visit where I saw the face of my beautiful physician and she saw me. Granted it is on the computer but since the virtual appointment that I had was more of a question-and-answer conversation to follow up on a past test, I was able to be in the comfort of my own home as socially distanced as I could be!
You can set this up with your doctor and it counts as any other visit through your insurance. Once the time is set, you go onto your computer, tablet or phone about ten minutes before to make sure your volume is up and your camera is on. Then you follow the easy instructions they send to you and voila! there she, or he, is smiling at you. That of course is the ideal way to stay safe but don’t let the virus stop you from necessary or essential in-person appointments.
When you need to go to the doctor, speak with someone in the office and find out what their protocol is. Make sure there are very few, if any, other patients waiting in the lobby area before they put you in a sterile room with just the doctor and one nurse. I can pretty much assure you they will all be wearing protective coverings on their faces. Wear your mask too and if you have to remove it for any reason, such as a dental emergency, remember to put it on up until the time you must remove it and then put it back on when the dentist is done. Nobody expects us to walk around with a bad toothache.
Bring hand sanitizer with you anytime you go out so that after you touch a door on your way in or out, you can use it before accidently touching your face. All medical offices now have several hand sanitizing machines or pumps, strategically located around their facility but I don’t take a chance. I am stocked up, thanks to Bath and Body Works and their recent online discounted sales. If you have any wipes, put two or three in a tightly sealed baggie and squeeze the air out as much as you can. Then seal it and keep it handy to wipe down your car door handle and steering wheel. This takes about two seconds and can be very helpful in avoiding any possible cross contamination. Since there is a scarcity of wipes, like toilet paper at times, you can make your own. Watch a tutorial online that shows you what and how much of each ingredient, depending on what you have available in your cupboards.
Should we be wearing gloves? That is a tricky question. It makes sense for your doctor, nurse or the phlebotomist at the lab to wear a mask and use disposable gloves since they use them only once and then toss them after each patient. For us however going from place to place can make wearing gloves counterproductive, possibly spreading germs as opposed to keeping them at bay. Again, wash your hands with soap and water often and for a minimum of 30 seconds but if you are going to an appointment use the hand sanitizer as your back-up alternative. Avoid touching your face until you have washed your hands thoroughly when you get home. I used to laugh at my sweet friend Diana because she is the hand sanitizer queen. Even before this new normal, she would always offer me some as if it was an appetizer before our luncheon visits. How I miss that!
Dry hands are an evil byproduct of too much washing or use of hand sanitizer but a nice lotion can help deter the dryness. I personally use foaming soap at home and it works beautifully without the need for lotion.
Aging comes with having to keep our bodies tuned up like a vintage car. There are certain things that cannot be put on hold even for this incredibly serious and unknown demon that is raging through our community and around the world. I am optimistic that a cure is in the near future but until then Grandpa and I are following the expert’s advice. We stay in unless it is absolutely necessary to go out, wear our masks for ourselves and others, wash our hands often and stay away from crowds. Please contact your doctor to see what measures they are taking to keep you not only safe but on track for your continued good health. I am not a physician but I try to read everything I can about this pandemic and evaluate the information based on scientific evidence from experts and the advice of my wonderful doctor. Stay safe and well!
Marla Luckhardt is a Brentwood resident who works with several local senior care and advocacy groups. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.