Unfortunately it happens. We all get sick from time to time. The best thing to do is have someone else take over the
care of your parent if possible and for you to stay away from your elderly parent.
If you must provide care there are some precautions you should take. Always wash your hands prior to giving any care or before handing them anything. As an extra precaution where disposable gloves but remember, gloves do not take the place of hand washing. And in this case sanitizer will not take the place of soap and water. If there is a risk of your illness being airborne you should wear a mask when you are within three feet of your elderly parent. I know masks are uncomfortable but for the elderly a cold can be pneumonia and possibly death.
You will also want to wipe down any surfaces you touch such as doorknobs, telephones, handles of appliances, and faucets with either a commercial disinfectant cleaner or a ten percent bleach-water solution you mix yourself. Bleach is an easy and cheap disinfectant and is actually more effective at killing germs when diluted than straight out of the bottle. (Who knew?) It is also a corrosive and will eat through stainless steel so wipe surfaces off with water after spraying.
The chlorine in bleach degrades rapidly when exposed to light and should be discarded after twenty-four hours. Mix it in an opaque bottle to prevent light from entering. Bleach expires. Bleach begins degrading after six months and looses twenty percent of effectiveness each year. Never, ever, ever mix bleach and ammonia. This combination forms a poisonous gas that can kill you! Never add bleach to commercial disinfectants because of possibly dangerous chemical reactions.
Do not put off seeking medical assistance for yourself if you are ill. Delaying treatment can cause a prolonged recovery time or lead to a more serious illness. If you are a full-time caregiver chances are your stress level is high and your immune system is not quite up to par. Take care of yourself. Get plenty of rest.
If you suspect your parent is coming down with an infection do not delay getting them to the doctor. As mentioned before, elderly often have compromised immune systems making it harder for them to recover from even minor illnesses.
Tomorrow we will look at what to do if your parent has a contagious illness.