How to Care for Someone with COVID-19 (Without Getting Sick)

Avoid infection with these suggestions.

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You got the bad news: someone you know has COVID-19. While you might want to start panicking, remember that most individuals who are infected can get through it safely at home. There are several ways you can care for someone with COVID-19, and if you’re careful, you can do it without getting sick yourself.

How to Care Safely for Someone With COVID-19

1. Wear a mask and gloves when helping

Your loved one should isolate in a separate room or area, if possible, and you should limit your contact with them as much as possible. When you are in the same room as them, you both should wear a mask. You should also wear gloves when you need to touch them or have contact with their belongings.

Experts recommend that you dispose of both masks and gloves after use when taking care of someone with COVID-19. One good tip is to buy gloves and masks in bulk and perhaps split the cost with another caretaker.

2. Keep them supplied with basic needs

Since your loved one needs to isolate, they may need help getting food, water, medicine, and more. You can help them with grocery shopping and filling prescriptions. Consider getting these delivered to be extra cautious.

Another way to help is to make sure they’re getting plenty of rest and drinking plenty of water. These can help fight off the infection and prevent complications.

3. Drop items off at their door

If you live with them, place the items outside their bedroom door so you don’t have to have contact with them at all. If you don’t live them, drop off the items outside their front door. This can help reduce your exposure to the virus.

You might not even have to do this in person. Many chain and local grocery stores are offering delivery services. Additionally, there are apps that can help you with errands like prescription delivery and pick-up.

4. Watch for COVID-19 warning signs

At any moment, a person’s symptoms could get worse, so have their primary care provider’s number ready in case you see any changes that are worrisome. If things change from one second to the next, call 911.

Warning signs of COVID-19 complications include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain or pressure that won’t go away
  • Confusion
  • Inability to wake up or stay awake
  • Changes in skin tone, lip color, or nail color, such as pale skin and lips or blue nails.

5. Clean your hands often

Before and after helping your loved one or touching their belongings, wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. You should wash your hands even when you take off and dispose of your gloves.

6. Regularly disinfect “high-touch” surfaces in the house

There are certain surfaces that are “high-touch,” which means that many people can come into contact with them and leave germs. These include tables, desks, doorknobs, handles, light switches, faucets, sinks, remotes, and electronics. Try to regularly disinfect these, especially after the infected person has touched it, to prevent any possible transmission.

7. Track your own health

Caregivers have a high risk of contracting COVID-19. Monitor any symptoms you may have during and after taking care of them. You should also quarantine during this time, and for at least 10 days after you’re done caring for them.

It’s also a good idea to let your doctor know you are caring for someone who has COVID-19. Sometimes, they can make helpful suggestions to keep both you and your “patient” safe.

Your actions can help your loved one, keep you safe, and reduce the spread in your community. If you have any questions about caring for your loved one or even yourself, contact your primary care provider; if things escalate, don’t hesitate to call 911.