The events of the past few years have shown us that our health is more important than anything else and that we need to safeguard the most vulnerable members of society from harm.
When you think of vulnerable people, you probably think of young children who can’t fend for themselves.
While they are vulnerable, there are many vulnerable adults out there too. A vulnerable adult is classed as someone who, through age or disability, both mental or physical, requires additional community care and support.
This might include the elderly, anyone who is experiencing severe mental anguish or someone with an ongoing illness.
Those with illnesses that compromise their immune systems are particularly vulnerable during these difficult times.
Even with the threat of COVID-19 now lessened thanks to vaccines and increased collective immunity, many individuals are still vulnerable and could also be at risk of new infections.
Infections are a particular issue for the vulnerable in our society. Those with lower immune systems aren’t as able to fight off an infection, which could cause them serious pain or even become fatal.
For those of us who care for or love someone who is immune-compromised or needs additional protection from infections, here are some practical ways you can help them to stay as safe and healthy as possible.
Check In On Them
As obvious and easy as it might sound, something as simple as looking in on someone regularly can make a major difference to their lives.
This is particularly true if they’re older and live alone, with studies showing that as many as 1.4 million elderly people in the UK feel lonely. As such, even if you’re not their primary carer, you can still make a massive positive difference to a friend or family member’s life by visiting them and checking in on them.
If you don’t have time to stop over regularly, then consider giving them a quick call to check that they’re OK.
This will help them to remember that they’re loved and lift their spirits. While keeping someone happy might not seem important when you’re trying to prevent infection, remember that the more support they get, the more motivated they will be to look after themselves.
Help Them Get The Care And Support They Need
As someone who knows and supports a vulnerable adult, whether as their carer, guardian or just as someone who loves them, you are in a great position to help them to get the support they need.
You can’t do everything yourself, and there are many services out there that they can use to live their lives safely. These might include community care for the elderly or support such as fetching shopping or prescriptions on their behalf.
There are many options out there, so speak to them and work out what will work best to suit their needs, and then find out what’s available in your local area.
This approach will ensure that you don’t take on too much, but that the person you love still gets access to the care and support they need and are entitled to.
Use The Correct PPE
If you provide in-person care or like to visit an immuno-compromised adult, then you need to make sure that you wear the right personal protective equipment (PPE).
This approach will reduce the risk of infections being passed from you to them and vice versa.
While face masks aren’t compulsory anymore, if you can, you should still try to wear one, particularly if you’ve been feeling unwell or have been in close contact with someone else who’s been feeling sick.
If you’re providing personal care, such as helping someone elderly to get dressed or bathe, then you should make sure that you have the correct gloves and other PPE items. This is especially vital when you’re trying to reduce the chances of an infection.
Give Them Cleaning Advice And Assitance
Cleanliness is vital when you’re trying to reduce the chances of an infection, so where possible, help the person you know and love to stay clean, both personally and throughout their home.
If you notice that they’re struggling to keep their surroundings clean and tidy, then offer to help them to reduce the chances of a bacterial infection from dirt or mould.
Should you believe that they’re struggling to clean themselves, then consider how you can help them to adapt their bathroom situation and regime to ensure that they stay clean.
It can be difficult to talk to someone about cleanliness, so be supportive and discuss it calmly and in a non-confrontational manner. Try to show them that you’re not judging them, but instead are simply trying to offer them help and support.
It’s not easy staying on top of cleaning tasks, particularly for the elderly and those who are unwell, so be kind and work with them to help them be as clean and tidy as possible to reduce the chances of a bacterial infection growing in their home.
Learn The Signs Of Common Infections
While prevention is better than the cure, it’s impossible to completely safeguard anyone from infection. As such, as well as learning to prevent infections, you also need to think about how you’re going to handle the situation if they do show symptoms.
The best approach is to stay informed and be vigilant: if you think they have the symptoms of an infection, then make sure you get them checked out.
Learn the symptoms of common infections and what to look out for, so you can always stay on top of any health issues they might have.
A common infection that many elderly and vulnerable people get is pneumonia, so learn the symptoms of pneumonia to ensure you always know what to look for. You’ll then be able to tell if they’re showing any and quickly get them the treatment and help they need.
If In Doubt, Seek Professional Help
These tips should help you to feel more confident in protecting the vulnerable people you love from infections. However, they’re not completely infallible, and there’s always a risk.
If you’re in any form of doubt or concerned in any way, speak to a medical professional. A doctor or nurse practitioner will be able to offer you support and advice that’s tailored to the patient’s unique situation and help you keep them happy and healthy for as long as possible.
By being proactive, you can reduce the chances of an infection developing into something more serious.
Take Care Of Your Own Health
Finally, you need to make sure that you take care of yourself. If you’re a carer or in regular contact with a vulnerable adult, then you need to make sure that you’re fit and healthy enough to give them the support they need.
It would be best if you also protect yourself from infections as much as you can, as these can easily be transmitted to the person you care for and love.
Make sure that you follow these tips when it comes to your own health, and do everything in your power to keep yourself healthy and ready to support the person you care for.
It’s important to remember that your mental well-being is as important as your physical health, so take the time to ensure that you don’t burn out and get stressed from caring for your friend or family member.