Dr Nelson Makemba
Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, our country has never faced a challenging time like it is faced with right now. Most hospital facilities have reached their maximum capacity – and oftentimes, families are faced with the challenge of caring for their loved ones at home. From a medical point of view, below are a few ways to address the basic aspects that one needs to consider when looking after a family member with Covid-19 at home.
Firstly, it is very important to protect yourself while caring for someone with Covid-19. The recommendations include the following:
Keeping your hands clean and away from your face, frequently wash your hands with soap and water or use 70% alcohol-based sanitiser.
Wear a face mask if you need to be in the same room with the person who is ill and maintain a reasonable distance of at least two metres.
Clean your home frequently. Use household cleaning sprays or wipes to clean surfaces that are often touched, including counters, tabletops and doorknobs.
Be careful with laundry; don’t shake dirty laundry, and wash your hands after handling the laundry.
Be careful with dishes; wear gloves when handling dishes, cups or utensils used by a sick person.
Avoid direct contact with the sick person’s body fluids.
Avoid having unnecessary visitors in your home until your loved one has made a full recovery from Covid-19.
It is of paramount importance to care for yourself while looking after your sick loved one by maintaining a daily routine. This includes eating healthy, staying well hydrated, exercising, resting well, avoiding alcohol and cigarettes and taking breaks from Covid-19-related news. When your loved one has made significant progress on their journey to recovery and is able to tolerate some level of exercises, it is highly recommended to incorporate exercises in their daily routine to enhance speedy recovery. This is also the time for you to take both you and your loved one’s mental health into consideration as part of the journey and get the assistance of the psychologist.
As for the person who is caring for the sick, one must isolate for 7-10 days and be on the watch for common signs and symptoms of Covid-19, such as fever, cough or shortness of breath. Stay connected to your family, doctor and any other support group through phone call text messages, etc.
The use of home-based oxygen and oxygen concentrator is a highly recommended subject to affordability, especially when your loved one is experiencing shortness of breath.
Finally, most people who become sick with Covid-19 will only experience mild illness and can recover at home; however, older adults and people of any age with existing medical conditions should call their doctor or go to the hospital as soon as the symptoms start because they are at greater risk of becoming seriously ill with Covid-19.
* Dr Nelson Makemba is the managing director Nesha Medical Practice.