Preventing Illness, Developing Preparedness, and Reaching Out During a Pandemic
By Kari Kaminski, RN, BSN, CRRN and Agata Buczek, RN, BSN, CRRN, Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation, Chester Campus
Although the spread of COVID-19 has begun to wane in many areas of the country, the importance of staying vigilant and following state and local precautions remains a high priority for all.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone in ways we never could have anticipated. These unprecedented times have added an extra burden to brain injury survivors and their caregivers. It’s important to prevent becoming infected, plan for what to do if you or someone in your family becomes ill, and know how to reach out for help to prevent increased stress, anxiety, and isolation.
As we receive new information regarding the virus, it is imperative that we stay well-informed about the latest guidelines in order to remain safe and healthy.
What can you do to help prevent contracting and spreading COVID-19?
- Stay at home as much as possible.
- Practice social distancing; stay at least six feet away from others.
- Avoid gatherings of people.
- Frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching your face, mouth, nose, and eyes with unwashed hands. For those with brain injury who may have restless hands, try squeezing a stress ball, using a fidget spinner, doodling, or playing a game on a handheld device.
- When handwashing is not available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces. If you use an assistive device such as a wheelchair or cane, frequently clean all areas that you touch.
- Wear a mask or face covering over your mouth and nose when in public.
What can you do to reduce feelings of isolation and anxiety?
- Stay connected with family, friends, and community through use of technology and video conferencing.
- Check in with your doctors through telephone or video conference. Many medical offices provide services via telehealth platforms. (Do not delay medical care!)
- Build a normal daily routine to regulate sleep cycles. Adequate sleep is imperative for proper immune function and anxiety reduction.
- Practice mindfulness by journaling, meditating, or focusing on deep breathing. Caregivers can also benefit from these practices.
- Exercise daily, even if it is only light stretching or taking a walk around the block, as this helps improve circulation and reduce anxiety.
- Do not neglect proper nutrition and adequate hydration. Eat plenty of protein-rich foods, fruits, and vegetables, and drink plenty of fluids.
As an additional resource, if you live in NJ, you can visit the state Office of Emergency Management: Special Needs Emergency Preparedness Registry at https://www13.state.nj.us/SpecialNeeds/Signin?ReturnUrl=/SpecialNeeds/
Registering will help first responders plan and provide efficient service to those who need it most in times of natural disasters and other emergencies.