COVID-19: Caregiving for the Elderly and Home Infection Control


When it comes to COVID-19, the disease caused by a new coronavirus, older individuals are especially vulnerable to severe infection. Data shows that the risk of serious infection from novel coronavirus increases with age (60 years and older). Older adults with pre-existing health conditions like diabetes, lung disease, heart disease or cancer are especially at higher risk to have severe (even deadly) infection than other age groups.

If you are caring for an older loved one, you need to know how to keep elderly individuals safer, and what to do if they do become infected with COVID-19.

Keeping yourself well

For the Caregiver

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after providing care, using the bathroom, preparing food, or touching surfaces in any public places
  • Avoid crowds and crowded places. If you sneeze or cough, do it into your bent elbow or a disposable tissue
  • Keep your hands away from your face
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces like mobility and medical equipment, such as canes, walkers, handrails, etc.

For the Elderly

  • Stay home
  • Wash your hands often (also keep an alcohol-based sanitizer handy)
  • Avoid close contact (keep 6 feet, about two arm lengths) with people who are sick
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces
  • Put off any non-essential travel
  • Postpone unnecessary doctor visits. Use tele-health consultations
  • Postpone regular/annual checkups, elective procedures
  • Practice social distance
  • Limit in-person visits

Managing Stress

Older people are at higher risk for severe COVID-19 which may cause increased stress during this crisis. Things to do to manage stress:

  • Take deep breaths or practice yoga/meditation
  • Eat healthy, well-balanced meals
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Exercise regularly – Walk inside the room, or on the terrace/verandah, if possible
  • Avoid alcohol and smoking
  • Go on a news diet! Avoid watching, reading or listening about coronavirus
  • Make time to unwind (read, listen to music, sing, draw, watch movies, etc.)
  • Connect with others. Call loved ones, keep involved in family activities and learn how to use technology like video calls to stay connected

Disinfecting the Home

Clean High-touched Objects

Clean surfaces using soap and water or use a disinfectant whichever is appropriate for the surface. Practice routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces. As part of the everyday prevention plan, clean and frequently disinfect high-touched objects and surfaces, such as:

  • Countertops
  • Tables
  • Doorknobs
  • Light switches
  • Cabinet handles
  • Desks
  • Phones
  • Keyboards
  • Toilets
  • Faucets
  • Sinks
  • Mobility and medical equipment
    – Canes

    – Walkers

    – Handrails

Disinfecting the Household

  • Use diluted household bleach solutions if appropriate for the surface. Check for the expiration date. Unexpired household bleach can be effective against coronaviruses if appropriately diluted.
  • Follow instructions from the manufacturer for application and proper ventilation. Do not mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser.
  • Use alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol to clean surfaces
  • If the surface or an item is dirty, clean with soap and water or a detergent. Then, use a household disinfectant
  • Follow the instructions on the label on the disinfectant to ensure safe and effective use of the product. Many products recommend:- Keeping surface wet for several minutes to ensure germs are killed- Precautions like wearing gloves and ensuring you have good ventilation during use of the product

Soft Surfaces

For soft surfaces like rugs, carpeted floor and drapes

  • Clean surface using soap and water, or with cleaners suitable for use on these surfaces
  • Launder these items (if possible) as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Use the warmest water setting and dry items completely


For clothing, linens, towels and other items

  • Wear disposable gloves
  • Wash hands with soap and water as soon as you remove the gloves.
  • Do not shake dirty laundry
  • Wash these items as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Use warmest water setting and dry items completely
  • Dirty laundry from a sick person cannot be washed with other people’s items


  • Stay separated: The sick elderly person should eat, or should be fed, separately (in their room, if possible)
  • Wash utensils and dishes using hot water and gloves
  • Clean hands after handling any used food service items


  • Dedicated, lined trash can: If you have a sick older adult at home, assign a lined trash can for the ill person, if possible. Use gloves while removing garbage bags and handling or disposing of trash. Wash hands afterwards.

Contact the nearest healthcare centre or call: 1075 or 011 23978046 if you or your loved ones have concerns about COVID-19 and the underlying condition or if you are sick.