The holidays are approaching us quickly and the COVID-19 pandemic is something that may alter our holiday gatherings this year. Holiday gatherings can be an opportunity to reconnect with family and friends. However, this year, consider ways to modify your gatherings to reduce the spread of COVID-19 amongst your loved ones.
Celebrating virtually or with only members of your household pose the lowest risk of spread. However, we realize that some will continue holding holiday gatherings. Here are a few tips to reduce the spread and keep your loved ones safe.
Considerations for Hosting or Attending Gatherings
- Check the local infection rates in the area you’re visiting. Based on the current status in the area you’re in, consider if it is truly safe to hold or attend the event.
- Try to limit the number of attendees, so that people can remain at least 6 feet apart. Guests should avoid any direct contact: handshakes, hugs, etc.
- Hold your gathering outdoors instead of indoors. Even outdoors, require your guests to wear masks when not eating or drinking.
- Set up an open-air tent, so that guests can still practice social distancing.
- Encourage attendees to wash their hands often with soap and water. Provide hand sanitizer.
Food and drink at Holiday Gatherings
- Encourage guests to bring food and drinks for themselves and members of their household only. Avoid any pot-luck gatherings.
- Consider wearing a mask when preparing and serving food.
- Try single-serve options or have one person serve shareable items, like salad dressings, food containers, plates, and utensils.
For more information on Holiday Celebrations and Small Gatherings, please visit the CDC website here.
When using Sani-Cloth hand wipes, remember to use each sheet until it’s dry, and make sure to keep the canister lid closed until the next use. You may also want to take advantage of multi-use, reusable cloth wipes instead of paper towels. They are great because they are:
- Reusable, durable, dry cleaning cloths
- Superabsorbent and multi-purpose uses
- Machine washable, for multiple uses
- Rinse and reuse up to 20 times
- An alternative to paper towels, rags, and sponges
A blog post from www.eater.com talks about why kitchen towels are so useful. Read more below.
By Lesley Suter
I have a paper towel problem. In a normal week, I tear through two to three of those jumbo-size rolls that barely fit on the countertop holder. I use them to clean up small messes, big messes, non-messes, every mess. I use them to dry my hands after each little rinse in the kitchen sink. I use them as dinner napkins, as makeshift plates, like Kleenex. And mostly I use them to wipe the schmutz off every square inch of my two children multiple times per day.
I am acutely aware that using so many paper towels is wasteful and killing trees and makes all the other small eco-moves I do (Beeswax wraps! Glass containers!) seem hypocritical. But yet, paper towels are ever-so-easy and hygienic and convenient and, under normal circumstances, readily available. Parents get it — we discuss our rampant paper towel use with the same hushed tones and side winks that we do when divulging our dependence on screen time and prescription edibles.
For years, every time I tore through those little select-a-size perforations (note: the correct size is always three) I felt a twinge of shame — an emotion that, as it turns out, was for naught because the novel coronavirus has finally exposed the American public for the selfish, paper towel addicted monsters they really are. We are a nation of roll hoarders.
So, as is the case with many aspects of modern life in the wake of COVID-19, I’m being forced to adapt. And out of the ashes of my crumpled paper towel heap has arisen an unexpected new savior: The humble kitchen towel. I’ve always had stacks of these thin, stiff, mismatched strips of fabric stuffed in a drawer, which I would break out from time to time to literally dry a dish, but that was about it. Now, with my multi-purpose disposable crutch unavailable, kitchen towels have emerged as an essential part of my kitchen — and honestly, life — toolbox. Here’s why:
They clean things
I don’t know why I had it in my head that kitchen towels are only for drying things. They also sop and scrub and, when damp, actually clean pretty great! Just as before I can spray my countertop cleaner of choice and wipe a dish towel over it like one would a paper towel or a sponge — a disgusting, unsanitary sponge.
But they do so much more than clean things!
Need to wring the moisture out of shredded potatoes or zucchini? Twist it in a dishtowel. Need to cover (but not seal) some proofing dough or steamed rice? Drape a kitchen towel over it. Is lettuce too wet? Dab it with that towel. A couple of wadded-up (and dry!) towels work just super as pot holders, and folded over they’re great makeshift trivets. The use of kitchen towels as table napkins has been well-documented, but now I actually tie one around my kids’ neck, tape the other end to the counter, and make a scoop bib for catching dribbles.
This seems obvious, but it didn’t really hit home until I started using them regularly. I can run a damp towel under my kid’s chair to snag all the gross cheerio crumbs and old wrinkly peas that are under there, take it to the sink, rinse it out, let it dry, and it’s good to clean something else gross and horrible in an hour or so. Plus, at the end of each night, I just grab all the rinsed sullied towels, throw them in the washing machine, and they’re ready for the next days’ worth of destruction.
They look great
Paper towels are about as good for your decor as they are for the environment — but kitchen towels can make a statement. There are all kinds of cute designer patterns available, or you can go classic with the bistro-chic white with a red stripe. I recently discovered I own six different variations of cat-themed towels, so there’s that!
So, have kitchen towels totally cured me of my paper towel addiction? God, no. Not even close. But do I now look at all those weird rags shoved in my kitchen drawer in a whole new light? Yes, sure. Scrub away!
Single-use masks could be a coronavirus hazard if we don’t dispose of them properly.
Many people have already been wearing masks for some time in a bid to protect themselves and others from COVID-19. Evidence has shown masks likely do reduce the spread of COVID-19, so wearing them is a good and ethical thing to do, but one conversation we’re not having enough is around how to safely dispose of single-use masks. Disposing of used masks or gloves incorrectly could risk spreading the infection they’re designed to protect against.
While reusable cloth masks are an option if you’ve been able to buy one or even make one yourself, disposable, single-use surgical masks appear to be a popular choice. They provide protection and they’re cheap and convenient. It’s estimated the global use and disposal of masks and gloves will amount to 129 billion face masks and 65 billion plastic gloves for every month of the COVID-19 pandemic. The effect on the environment is an important but separate issue to the health risks we’re discussing here.
Alarmingly, from what we’ve observed, people are discarding masks in communal trash bins and even leaving them in empty shopping carts. Incorrectly disposing of masks could create a risk of infection for others. People should know better than to leave used masks lying around, but they can’t be expected not to discard them in public bins when there’s no other option, and when they’re not given any advice on how to dispose of them properly. While there are clear guidelines on the disposal and separation of medical waste within healthcare settings, guidelines for disposal of surgical masks in public settings are unclear.
The Australian government simply advises they be disposed of “responsibly in the trash bin”, meaning they will be mixed with ordinary waste. This is in contrast to personal protective equipment (PPE) used in health-care settings, which is disposed of separately to regular waste, transported to sealed landfill, and in some cases incinerated.
We don’t yet know a whole lot about the survival of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, on textile materials. One study published in the medical journal The Lancet found no infectious SARS-CoV-2 could be detected on textile materials after 48 hours. A review study which looked at the survival of a range of pathogens on textiles found viruses could survive longer than 48 hours, though not as long as bacteria. Although we need more research on this topic, it seems there is potential for cross-contamination, and therefore possibly COVID-19 infection, from disposed masks. In addition, if the discarded mask is carrying infectious particles, it may be possible for these to cross-contaminate the surfaces they come into contact with, such as shopping carts. And we know SARS-CoV-2 survives more readily on hard surfaces than porous ones, so this is a worry.
The safest thing to do is to put used masks and gloves into a plastic bag when you take them off, and seal it. Then, when you’re back at home, throw the bag away into a closed bin.
Source: The Conversation, www.theconversation.com
Whether it’s the annual flu season or a pandemic like COVID-19, St. Anne’s understands the value of wearing masks and the impact they have on the health of our Residents and staff. Our campus has been closed to outside visitors since March, and since that time, masks have been required within our community. The importance of masks in reducing SARS-CoV2 infections in our communities is explained in the article below.
What’s the Deal with Masks?
Adapted from the article published on May 29, 2020 by Erin Bromage
Masks should not be a political issue. They are a public health issue. But they seem to have stirred up a whole mess of fuss for various reasons.
When we breathe, talk, yell, sing, cough or sneeze we release respiratory droplets. Tiny balls of mucus that go speeding out our mouth and nose and into the air around us. Those tiny little mucus balls can package up all sorts of fun things – for example, bacteria and viruses. Bacteria are by far the easier ones to see.
Viruses are a little harder to measure. You need to catch the droplets and put them in a tissue culture plate containing cells that will allow the virus to grow. The presence of virus in respiratory droplets of infected people has been demonstrated by many labs around the world.
When we speak, those tiny little respiratory droplets are projected forward from our mouth. Hard letters, such a “P” and “K” and “T” project droplets further than the softer letters in our alphabet. The large droplets (100um) hit the ground within 3 feet, the smaller ones within about 6 feet, while the smallest of all (known as the droplet nuclei) can travel great distances. The breathing zone (0-6 feet away) is the high-risk zone for potential infection. If you are within that range, you are inhaling respiratory droplets from the person with whom you are speaking. Outside of that range, the only concern is the smaller droplet nuclei.
The size of the large droplets allow more virus to be packed inside them. In contrast, the small droplet nuclei may only have a few infectious viral particles in each one. However, being smaller doesn’t necessarily mean they are safer. Smaller particles, when inhaled, can travel deeper into the lungs than the larger particles – and then find a home in the receptive lung tissue, more easily initiating infection.
Face-to-face conversations are one of the riskiest things you can do when there is an infectious respiratory disease running rampant in your community. It’s even more worrisome when we are facing a respiratory pathogen like SARS-CoV2 that is infectious for up to 5 days before the symptoms show (sub-clinical infectious period).
- The closer you are to another human, the more risky your conversation or interaction.
- Staying 6 feet away allows all the larger droplets to hit the floor.
- Your risk is primarily the virus contained in the droplet nuclei, but the further you are away the more they are dispersed in the surrounding air, resulting in a lower dose, and a lower risk.
- The longer you speak face-to-face with someone, the more chance there is to accumulate an infectious dose of virus.
Location: Indoors vs. Outdoors
- Respiratory droplets still hit the ground at the same speed indoors and outdoors. What changes is the distance they travel before hitting the ground.
- Wind and air conditioning can push the larger droplets further from the person talking.
- Pay attention to the direction wind or A/C is blowing. Try to speak cross breeze, if at all possible, so the air pushes the droplets away from both of you and not to towards either of you.
- Wearing a mask while breathing, talking, yelling, coughing or sneezing catches respiratory droplets leaving your mouth and nose.
- Even with the most basic mask, virtually 100% of the large and medium-sized droplets are caught on the inside fabric surface.
- As the masks increase in quality, the amount of small respiratory droplets and droplet nuclei that get caught on the inside surface increases. Quality includes:
- How well it fits your face
- How much air passes through the fabric (versus up past your eyes/glasses)
- The type of fabrics included in the breathing area of the mask
**Wash your mask regularly with soap and water, especially if you are wearing for extended periods.**
Despite all the publications on mask use, there are no hard and fast numbers to provide because each mask and the way people wear them, is different. At a minimum, it is believed a good mask will reduce 50% of emissions from the mask-wearer. Multi-layered mixed fabric masks approach filtering efficiencies as high as 90%.
There is no clear evidence to indicate that cloth masks will protect you from inhaling the smallest infected respiratory droplets (those droplet nuclei) from another person. The primary purpose of a cloth mask, when worn by everyone, is to serve as a control for source emissions. If we lower the respiratory droplets coming out of us, we can substantially lower the amount of virus put into the air, thereby lowering the risk to everyone.
My mask protects you. Your mask protects me.
Successful Infection = (Exposure to Virus) x (Time)
If we can decrease the amount of virus released into the air in droplets through wearing masks, we will increase the time in which we can have safer face-to-face conversations
The risk for infection increases in shared spaces increases with:
- The more people that are in that space
- The longer time we spend in that space
- Indoor spaces are more risky than outdoor spaces (due to lack of air exchange indoors)
What role do masks have in indoor spaces?
Indoor spaces allow for the virus to accumulate in the air if there is not adequate air filtration and exchange.
In indoor environments with poor air exchange and filtration, the infected respiratory droplets can spread throughout the room, build up in the air, and, after a sufficient length of time, people sharing that space can inhale enough of a viral load to become infected. However, with mask use, the respiratory emissions are lowered, and you are provided with a greater period of time before reaching an infectious dose. The better the quality of the mask, the greater reduction in respiratory emissions and the longer you can spend in the indoor space safely.
If you spend a lot of time in shared spaces, what can you do?
- Invest in high quality masks. Look for a mask that has a multi-layer multi-fabric design and an adjustable nose bridge to seal the top part of the mask to your face. The more of your exhaled air that is forced to pass through the mask fabric, the greater the filtering respiratory droplets will be caught inside the mask, and everyone is safer.
- Improve the intake of outside air – the more air you can exchange with outside, the lower the viral burden in your space.
- Improve the filtration – some HVAC systems can be easily upgraded to have high quality filters included in the system. Potentially upgrade with UV. Consider purchasing portable HEPA filtration systems for smaller spaces where the central system may not be adequate (therapy offices, treatment rooms etc).
- Masks are part of the solution to reduce the release of infectious virus into the environment, but they are not 100% effective.
- Social distancing works when outdoors and in brief indoor encounters, but distance alone, while indoors, does not protect you from infection.
Face mask use is a social contract.
My mask protects you. Your mask protects me.
Face masks are not perfect and they need to be used in conjunction with other measures to lower risk of infection such as physical distancing and hand washing. There is ample evidence to suggest that widespread use of masks results in significant reductions in the transmission of respiratory viruses. Mask use is grounded in biology and can have a real world and meaningful effect on slowing the spread of infection, protecting your coworkers, and those vulnerable members in your community.
- Can my fabric masks protect me as well?
Yes, some brands provide filtering capacity on exhalation and inhalation, but their effectiveness comes down to how well they fit your face and the material used.
- Should I wear a mask with valves?
Masks with valves allow the ejection of your respiratory droplets out through the air port. Possibly at a higher velocity than normal breathing and therefore dispersing the droplets further. While the filter in the port does protect you from infection and the masks do catch your largest droplets, they are not the best option when we are considering a community-minded approach to mask use.
- Why not wear a N95 or KN95?
These high quality respirators provide excellent protection on both exhalation and inhalation, but only if they are fitted properly, and they are not easy to fit properly. All air must pass through the respirator material and the vast majority of people wearing them do not wear them correctly.
To read the full article with graphics, visit https://www.erinbromage.com/post/what-s-the-deal-with-masks
As counties in Pennsylvania and other states begin a phased reopening plan, many people are concerned about the continued spread of COVID-19 or another spike in cases. While health officials stress the importance of handwashing and wearing masks, we want to share highlights of an article that can guide you away from situations of high risk.
COVID-19: The Risks – Know Them – Avoid Them
Published on May 6, 2020 by Erin S. Bromage, Ph.D.
Where are people getting sick?
We know most people get infected in their own home. A household member contracts the virus in the community and brings it into the house where sustained contact between household members leads to infection.
In order to get infected, you need to get exposed to an infectious dose of the virus; based on infectious dose studies with other coronaviruses, it appears that only small doses may be needed for infection to take hold. Some experts estimate that as few as 1000 SARS-CoV2 infectious viral particles are all that will be needed. Please note, this still needs to be determined experimentally, but we can use that number to demonstrate how infection can occur. Infection could occur, through 1000 infectious viral particles you receive in one breath or from one eye-rub, or 100 viral particles inhaled with each breath over 10 breaths, or 10 viral particles with 100 breaths. Each of these situations can lead to an infection.
How much Virus is released into the environment?
A Bathroom: Bathrooms have a lot of high touch surfaces, door handles, faucets, stall doors and the transfer risk in this environment can be high. We still do not know whether a person releases infectious material in feces or just fragmented virus, but we do know that toilet flushing does aerosolize many droplets. Treat public bathrooms with extra caution (surface and air), until we know more about the risk.
A Cough: A single cough releases about 3,000 droplets and droplets travels at 50 miles per hour. Most droplets are large, and fall quickly (gravity), but many do stay in the air and can travel across a room in a few seconds.
A Sneeze: A single sneeze releases about 30,000 droplets, with droplets traveling at up to 200 miles per hour. Most droplets are small and travel great distances (easily across a room). If a person is infected, the droplets in a single cough or sneeze may contain as many as 200,000,000 (two hundred million) virus particles which can all be dispersed into the environment around them.
A Breath: A single breath releases 50 – 5000 droplets. Most of these droplets are low velocity and fall to the ground quickly. There are even fewer droplets released through nose-breathing. Importantly, due to the lack of exhalation force with a breath, viral particles from the lower respiratory areas are not expelled. Unlike sneezing and coughing which release huge amounts of viral material, the respiratory droplets released from breathing only contain low levels of virus.
Remember the formula: Successful Infection = Exposure to Virus x Time
- If a person coughs or sneezes, the viral particles go everywhere. If you are face-to-face with a person, having a conversation, and that person sneezes or coughs straight at you, it is possible to inhale 1,000 virus particles and become infected. Even if that cough or sneeze was not directed at you, infectious viral particles can fill every corner of a modest sized room. All you have to do is enter that room within a few minutes, take a few breaths and you have potentially received enough virus to establish an infection.
- With general breathing of 20 viral particles per minute into the environment, even if every virus ended up in your lungs (which is very unlikely), you would need 1000 viral particles divided by 20 per minute = 50 minutes.
- Speaking increases the release of respiratory droplets about 10-fold. Assuming every virus is inhaled, it would take 5 minutes of speaking face-to-face to receive the required dose.
- Anyone you spend greater than 10 minutes with in a face-to-face situation is potentially infected. Anyone who shares a space with you (say an office) for an extended period is potentially infected.
- It is critical for people who are symptomatic to stay home. Your sneezes and your coughs expel so much virus that you can infect a whole room of people.
What is the role of asymptomatic people in spreading the virus?
Symptomatic people are not the only way the virus is shed. We know that at least 44% of all infections occur from people without any symptoms (asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic people). You can be shedding the virus into the environment for up to 5 days before symptoms begin.
Infectious people come in all ages, and they all shed different amounts of virus. The amount of virus released from an infected person changes over the course of infection and it is also different from person-to-person. Viral load generally builds up to the point where the person becomes symptomatic. Just prior to symptoms showing, you are releasing the most virus into the environment.
Ignoring the terrible outbreaks in nursing homes, we find that the biggest outbreaks are in prisons, religious ceremonies, and workplaces, such as meat packing facilities and call centers. Any environment that is enclosed, with poor air circulation and high density of people, spells trouble.
As we move back to work, or go to a restaurant, let’s look at what can happen in those environments:
- Restaurants: A single asymptomatic carrier releases low-levels of virus into the air from their breathing. Because of the airflow from vents, approximately 50% of the people at the infected person’s table became sick, 75% of the people on the adjacent downwind table became infected and a few of the people on the upwind table were infected (believed to happen by turbulent airflow). No one out of the main airflow from the air conditioner became infected.
- Call Center: A single infected employee infected 43.5% of the workplace (mostly one side of the room). While the exact number of people infected by respiratory droplets / respiratory exposure versus surface transmission is unknown, it serves to highlight that being in an enclosed space, sharing the same air for a prolonged period increases your chances of exposure and infection.
- Meat Processing Plant: Densely packed workers must communicate to one another amidst the deafening drum of industrial machinery and a cold-room virus-preserving environment.
- Business Networking: Face-to-face business networking
- Choir: A single asymptomatic carrier infected most of the people in attendance after singing inside for 2.5 hours – even though people took steps to minimize transfer (ex. no hugging or handshakes). Singing, to a greater degree than talking, aerosolizes respiratory droplets extraordinarily well. Deep-breathing while singing facilitated those respiratory droplets getting deep into the lungs.
- Indoor sports: A sporting event brings athletes and teammates in close contact in a cool indoor environment, with heavy breathing for an extended period.
- Birthday parties / funerals: An infected person shares a takeout meal served from common dishes and then attends a funeral, hugging family members and others in attendance to express condolences the next day. He also attended a birthday party where he hugged and shared food with other people. The spread of the virus within the household and back out into the community through funerals, birthdays, and church gatherings is believed to be responsible for the broad transmission of COVID-19.
Commonality of Outbreaks
The reason to highlight these different outbreaks is to show you the commonality of outbreaks of COVID-19. All these infection events were indoors, with people closely-spaced, with lots of talking, singing, or yelling. The main sources for infection are home, workplace, public transport, social gatherings, and restaurants. This accounts for 90% of all transmission events. In contrast, outbreaks spread from shopping appear to be responsible for a small percentage of traced infections.
Indoor spaces, with limited air exchange or recycled air and lots of people, are concerning from a transmission standpoint. Social distancing guidelines don’t hold in indoor spaces where you spend a lot of time. The principle is viral exposure over an extended period of time.
Social distancing rules are really to protect you with brief exposures or outdoor exposures. In these situations, there is not enough time to achieve the infectious viral load when you are standing 6 feet apart or where wind and the infinite outdoor space for viral dilution reduces viral load. The effects of sunlight, heat, and humidity on viral survival, all serve to minimize the risk to everyone when outside.
When assessing the risk of infection (via respiration) at the grocery store or mall, you need to consider the volume of the air space (very large), the number of people (restricted), how long people are spending in the store (workers – all day; customers – an hour). Taken together, for a person shopping: the low density, high air volume of the store, along with the restricted time you spend in the store, means that the opportunity to receive an infectious dose is low. But, for the store worker, the extended time they spend in the store provides a greater opportunity to receive the infectious dose and therefore the job becomes riskier.
As the work closures are loosened, and we start to venture out more, you need to look at your environment, make judgments and assess the risk:
- How many people are here?
- How much airflow is there around me?
- How long will I be in this environment?
- Am I in an open floorplan office? What’s the of volume of people and airflow?
- Does my job require face-to-face talking or yelling?
- Am I sitting in a well-ventilated space with few people? (low risk)
If you are outside, and walk past someone, remember it is “dose and time” needed for infection. You would have to be in their airstream for 5+ minutes for a chance of infection. While joggers may be releasing more virus due to deep breathing, remember the exposure time is also less due to their speed. Please do maintain physical distance, but the risk of infection in these scenarios are low.
While this article focused on respiratory exposure here, please don’t forget surfaces. Those infected respiratory droplets land somewhere. Wash your hands often and stop touching your face!
As we are allowed to move around our communities more freely and be in contact with more people in more places more regularly, the risks to ourselves and our family are significant. Do your part and wear a mask to reduce what you release into the environment. It will help everyone.
To read the full article and see graphs associated with the author’s research, please visit https://www.erinbromage.com/post/the-risks-know-them-avoid-them
Notice to our Residents, Staff & Visitors:
If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms and have recently traveled to or from anywhere within or outside the United States, please avoid visitation for 21 days. We are taking extra steps to protect our residents and staff from the coronavirus, a flu-like illness that originally developed in outside countries. Precautionary measures are being taken to prevent the spread of the virus.
Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)
Q. What are coronaviruses?
- Human coronaviruses were first identified in the mid-1960s. They are a respiratory virus named for the crown-like spikes on their surface. We are currently aware of seven different types of human coronaviruses, four of which are associated with mild to moderate upper-respiratory tract illnesses, like the common cold. Other types of the virus include severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), which is responsible for the latest outbreak. Although COVID-19 is similar to the other types of coronaviruses, it is unique in many ways and we are still learning more each day.
Q. How do you get infected with COVID-19?
- COVID-19 is spread by close person-to-person contact from droplets from a cough or sneeze, which can get into your mouth, nose, or lungs. Close contact is defined asbeing within approximately 6 feet of another person. There aren’t many cases in the U.S., so the risk of contracting COVID-19 is low.
Q. How do I know if I have COVID-19?
- If you were recently exposed to someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19 or have been in a place where an outbreak has occurred within the last two weeks the following symptoms could indicate you have contracted COVID-19 – (a) fever, (b) cough or (c) shortness of breath. Unless your symptoms are severe, it is recommended you call your healthcare provider first before entering a healthcare facility. When speaking with a healthcare provider in-person or on the phone, be sure to note your symptoms, travel history, or if you were exposed to a person diagnosed with the virus.
Q. How severe is this illness?
- The World Health Organization says 80% of people with COVID-19 have a mild form of the illness with cold- or flulike symptoms. The people most likely to get seriously ill from this virus are people over 60 and/or those with pre-existing health conditions. It is estimated that for every 100 cases of COVID-19, between two and four people would die. This is very different from a coronavirus like SARS, where nearly ten in 100 sick people died from the illness.
Q. I see people wearing masks, should I be doing that?
- Health officials in the U.S. do not recommend the use of masks among people not showing symptoms of COVID-19. People in places where spread is more likely, may have been instructed to wear masks to prevent infecting others and to possibly prevent getting ill from close contact in crowded places.
Q. What can I do to prevent getting sick from COVID-19?
- The following tips will help to prevent COVID-19 as well as other respiratory viruses:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth, especially with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are showing symptoms of illness.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Cover your cough or sneezes with a tissue or sneeze into your elbow. Throw the tissue in the garbage and make sure to clean your hands afterwards.
- Stay home when you are sick.
Source: Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC)
Each January and February, senior living facilities often notice an increase in phone calls requesting information about admission requirements. Inquiries come from family members who have observed differences in a loved one’s personality, memory or daily routine during holiday visits.
It’s common for family members to begin using both “dementia” and “Alzheimer’s” to describe their loved one’s changing state of mind, but the medical conditions are not the same. The article from AARP below will help caretakers begin to understand the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s and provide talking points for discussions with medical professionals about your loved one’s health.
Dementia vs. Alzheimer’s: Which Is It?
How to understand the difference — and why it matters
The terms “dementia” and “Alzheimer’s” have been around for more than a century, which means people have likely been mixing them up for that long, too. But knowing the difference is important. While Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia (accounting for an estimated 60 to 80 percent of cases), there are several other types. The second most common form, vascular dementia, has a very different cause — namely, high blood pressure. Other types of dementia include alcohol-related dementia, Parkinson’s dementia and frontotemporal dementia; each has different causes as well. In addition, certain medical conditions can cause serious memory problems that resemble dementia.
A correct diagnosis means the right medicines, remedies and support. For example, knowing that you have Alzheimer’s instead of another type of dementia might lead to a prescription for a cognition-enhancing drug instead of an antidepressant. Finally, you may be eligible to participate in a clinical trial for Alzheimer’s if you’ve been specifically diagnosed with the disease.
What it is…
In the simplest terms, dementia is a nonreversible decline in mental function.
It is a catchall phrase that encompasses several disorders that cause chronic memory loss, personality changes or impaired reasoning, Alzheimer’s disease being just one of them, says Dan G. Blazer, M.D., a professor of psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center.
To be called dementia, the disorder must be severe enough to interfere with your daily life, says Constantine George Lyketsos, M.D., director of the Johns Hopkins Memory and Alzheimer’s Treatment Center in Baltimore.
It is a specific disease that slowly and irreversibly destroys memory and thinking skills.
Eventually, Alzheimer’s disease takes away the ability to carry out even the simplest tasks.
A cure for Alzheimer’s remains elusive, although researchers have identified biological evidence of the disease: amyloid plaques and tangles in the brain. You can see them microscopically, or more recently, using a PET scan that employs a newly discovered tracer that binds to the proteins. You can also detect the presence of these proteins in cerebral spinal fluid, but that method isn’t used often in the U.S.
How it’s diagnosed…
A doctor must find that you have two or three cognitive areas in decline.
These areas include disorientation, disorganization, language impairment and memory loss. To make that diagnosis, a doctor or neurologist typically administers several mental-skill challenges.
In the Hopkins verbal learning test, for example, you try to memorize then recall a list of 12 words — and a few similar words may be thrown in to challenge you. Another test — also used to evaluate driving skills — has you draw lines to connect a series of numbers and letters in a complicated sequence.
There’s no definitive test; doctors mostly rely on observation and ruling out other possibilities.
For decades, diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease has been a guessing game based on looking at a person’s symptoms. A firm diagnosis was not possible until an autopsy was performed.
But that so-called guessing game, which is still used today in diagnosing the disease, is accurate between 85 and 90 percent of the time, Lyketsos says. The new PET scan can get you to 95 percent accuracy, but it’s usually recommended only as a way to identify Alzheimer’s in patients who have atypical symptoms.
Closing Thoughts from St. Anne’s…
As a caretaker, the most important thing is noticing a difference in your loved one’s behavior – and not trying to diagnose the condition or the cause on your own. Make notes of your observations, have conversations with other family members and ultimately schedule an appointment with a doctor who can provide guidance regarding your love one’s changing health. It’s also helpful to contact senior living facilities about admission requirements, waiting lists and other information related to your loved one’s care.
Source: AARP, June 25, 2018
St. Anne’s is a special continuing care community in that it understands the benefits pets bring to people. While the campus is home to 250 human Residents, it is also home to several furry and feathered companions. When people move to the community, they can be comforted by the knowledge that animals will remain a part of their lives.
Pets weren’t always part of the St. Anne’s atmosphere. In the 1990s, Dan Lytle, administrator of personal care, brought two rescue dogs to the facility. Since then, a lot has developed as the staff recognized that animals play a vital role in people’s everyday lives. A pet committee was formed to take care of the costs of the facility owned animals. The committee relies on fundraisers and donations to cover food, vetting and other needs.
The joy these animals bring to Residents makes them an important part of the community. Many Residents either can no longer care for pets themselves, or had to leave their companions behind. The animals at St. Anne’s are pets to all who live and work there. They make St. Anne’s their home as much as the Residents do and consider all who live and work there to be their family. They have been known to brighten the days of many. They also make great companions for people to talk to, and are great conversation starters among Residents.
The facility currently owns two dogs, four cats, and a bird. St. Anne’s is selective about their facility pets. They must be able to adapt to such a large environment and be model citizens in their behavior. Those living in the cottages, villas and apartments can bring their own companions with them, but must be able to care for them.
St. Anne’s provides many additional benefits for its Residents. They have activities, personal care, therapy and a variety of other comforts and necessities on campus. They also have friendly staff who knows every Resident – including the furry ones. When choosing a continuing care facility, it is important to ensure you or your relatives are in a place that feels most like home. What could possibly feel more like home than having a dog by your side or cat on your lap to start or end your day?
Article courtesy of Samantha St.Clair, Editor at Lancaster County Pet Magazine, LancasterCountyPet.com