Update from our CEO, Dr. Eric Verdin:
In full support of Bay Area efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the Buck Institute is closed through April 7, 2020. Essential scientific activity is being maintained, including work interrogating the potential mechanism of action of the coronavirus. The Buck’s leadership has been in communication with county, state and federal officials and has offered the Institute’s resources and scientific and technological expertise to aid in efforts against the spread of the pandemic.
See update on High School Summer Scholars materials deadline: https://www.buckinstitute.org/education/internships/
Because COVID-19 disproportionately impacts older adults and there is a direct correlation between increased age and negative outcomes, the current pandemic has particular meaning for the Buck Institute. We are taking an all-hands-on-deck approach to tackling this pandemic, bringing our unique expertise in the biology of aging to local, national, and international efforts to find treatments for COVID-19.
In addition to the advice for older adults listed below, click here for a list of resources we recommend: COVID-19: Resources
For older adults and those that love them:
Tips for remaining safe and as healthy as possible in the time of COVID-19
The Centers for Disease Control and the California Department of Public Health are two good sources for safety information regarding COVID-19. Those wanting a deeper dive into what scientists are doing to quell the pandemic should check out information from the National Institutes of Health. All government officials warn that older adults (those over 60) and those with compromised immune systems are at increased risk for the disease.
While all of us have been urged (and in some locales, ordered) to shelter-at-home, it is imperative that those at high risk avoid contact with others and practice social distancing if they need to leave their homes. Social distancing means staying home as much as possible and staying at least 6 feet away from others when out in public.
If you think you might have COVID-19: If you do feel sick or get a fever (even mild), stay at home and call your doctor or local health department to get screened over the phone. Only go in for a swab test if advised to; don’t go in person unless it has been recommended first. While main symptoms include fever, shortness of breath and a dry cough there are people who present with gastrointestinal issues, body aches and headaches. If you’re having trouble breathing, do not hesitate to call 911.
Up your cleaning regimen: Wash your hands often, especially after re-entering the house/car or handling anything that was just handled by others. That includes gas pumps, door handles, packages, ATM machines, and the like. Soap and water work great, better than hand sanitizer. There are many videos online that offer advice on how to properly wash your hands.
Delay non-urgent medical care: Cancel any non-essential medical appointments or procedures. If you’re not sure what is essential, talk to your doctor by phone or video chat. Telephone and telemedicine video appointments are becoming increasingly available, take advantage of them.
Make sure you have adequate medication: Older adults should check with their health care providers to see if they should stock up on particular medications. Family members or friends should check in frequently to make sure older adults are taking medications as prescribed or need refills. Many pharmacies will mail prescriptions.
Obtain the essentials: Those at risk should ask family members or friends to shop for them or use a grocery delivery service. Groceries should be left at the door to limit possible exposure to COVID-19. If possible, wipe down handles before bringing bags or boxes into the house. Aim to have a two-week supply of food available—frozen veggies are just as healthy as fresh. Older adults who need to shop should take advantage of “senior hours” (usually the first hour of business) when stores are less crowded. Wear gloves when you leave the house and wash your hands thoroughly when returning home.
Get digitally connected: Stay social! Many older adults depend on activities at senior centers and volunteer work to keep socially engaged – it’s time to seek out alternatives. Most communities have instituted telephone-based services to make sure older adults stay connected. The Institute on Aging has a Friendship Line. Those who are technology-adept should help others utilize FaceTime, Skype or other applications that enable streaming a video connection. They are great solutions for keeping family and friends connected. The new trend on twitter is #PhysicalDistanceNotSocialDistance. Just because you need to minimize physical exposure to people doesn’t mean you have to be isolated!
Keep moving as much as possible: Exercise boosts immunity! If you are able to get outside and socially isolate, go for a walk or do yard work. Check out online workouts and classes; they abound on streaming services. The National Institute on Aging has an exercise campaign called Go4Life that includes free online video workouts.
Get adequate sleep and manage stress: Getting through the COVID-19 pandemic will take time. It’s important that all of us learn coping skills to minimize stress. The CDC recommends that we take breaks from watching, reading or listening to news stories, including social media. Consider yoga, meditation or deep breathing exercises (many classes are available online). Do activities that you enjoy or take advantage of extra time to develop new hobbies. Talk with people you trust; share your feelings and concerns.
Reach out: If you are an older adult, make an effort to connect with friends and family. If you are in good health, consider volunteering for a hotline service. If you know older adults, stay in regular contact to ensure that they are healthy and that they have what they need to get through the current crisis. We’re all in this together!
Stay productive! Many vital tasks can be done at home. Ask your local hospital or non-profit if they need help with calling people, organizing, etc. Organize your group of friends and neighbors to help each other while minimizing physical contact.
Be prepared: If you haven’t already, complete an advanced directive and health care proxy. This is not fatalistic - it’s necessary anyway, and not something you want to do while you’re sick.
Stay safe and healthy!