Tips for caregivers

How can I help prevent my loved one from getting COVID-19?

Older people and those with underlying medical conditions, such as chronic kidney failure or people have had a kidney transplant and take immunosuppressive drugs, are at increased risk of contracting COVID-19 and developing serious complications.

Take stock of your supplies

If you are caregiver for a family member or friend who is at an increased risk of serious disease, now’s the time to make sure you are prepared by doing the following.

  • Know what medications your loved one is taking and see if you can help them have extra on hand.
  • Monitor food and other medical supplies (oxygen, incontinence, dialysis, wound care) needed and create a back-up plan.
  • Stock up on non-perishable food to have on hand in your home to minimize trips to stores.
  • If your loved one is a resident in a care facility, check whether any residents have tested positive and know what will happen should an outbreak occur.

Tips for staying well

Practice everyday preventive actions to help reduce your risk of getting sick and infecting your loved one.

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue and throw the tissue in the trash
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, if you’re unable to wash your hands (eg, using a gas pump)
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects (eg, tables, countertops, light switches, doorknobs, and cabinet handles)

What precautions should I take when caring?

If you are caring for someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, you are at increased risk of also contracting the disease. In order to reduce your risk (and others who may be living in the home) of serious illness, you will need to carefully monitor the patient for emergency signs that symptoms are worsening, prevent the spread of germs, and carefully consider when to end home isolation.

Emergency signs

If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately.

Emergency warning signs*:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

*This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning

How to prevent the spread of germs when caring for someone who is sick

  • Have the person stay in one room, away from other people, including yourself, as much as possible
    • If possible, have them use a separate bathroom
    • Avoid sharing personal household items, like dishes, towels, and bedding
    • If facemasks are available, have them wear a facemask when they are around people, including you
    • It the sick person can’t wear a facemask, you should wear one while in the same room with them, if facemasks are available
    • If the sick person needs to be around others (within the home, in a vehicle, or doctor’s office), they should wear a facemask
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after interacting with the sick person. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Frequently disinfect all surfaces that are touched often, like counters, tabletops, and doorknobs
    • Use household cleaning sprays or wipes according to the label instructions
  • Wash laundry thoroughly
    • If laundry is soiled, wear disposable gloves and keep the soiled items away from your body while laundering. Wash your hands immediately after removing gloves.
  • Avoid having any unnecessary visitors

For any additional questions about their care, contact their healthcare provider or state or local health department

When to stop home isolation

People with COVID-19 who have self-isolated and have not been tested can stop home isolation under the following 3 conditions:

  • They have had no fever for at least 72 hours (that is 3 full days of no fever without the use medicine that reduces fevers)
  • Other symptoms have improved (eg, when their cough or shortness of breath have improved)
  • At least 7 days have passed since their symptoms first appeared

People with COVID-19 who have self-isolated and have tested can stop home isolation under the following 3 conditions:

  • They no longer have a fever (without the use medicine that reduces fevers)
  • Other symptoms have improved (for example, when their cough or shortness of breath have improved)
  • They received 2 negative tests in a row, 24 hours apart and their doctor will follow CDC guidelines

How can I keep myself and those under my care safe?

For more ways to help keep yourself and those you care for safe, see these tips.