This guide is particularly suitable for older people, but families will also find useful information here. It is a duty for everyone to ensure the well-being of our seniors during this pandemic. It is well known that the virus is very dangerous, especially for aging people.

Why are the recommendations to stay at home so important? What to do during this period, as much to support yourself, as to distract yourself? Here is a guide for this difficult situation for everyone.

1. Why containment recommendations?

On one hand, the rapid increase in the total number of cases may raise fears of the worst. On the other hand, the distribution of confirmed cases and the current number in some regions might suggest that there is not much risk of contagion. However, in either case, both are not justifiable and here is why.

The increase in observed cases should not be viewed as an increase in infection levels. The increase in the number of cases is currently linked to the increase in the number of cases evaluated and therefore the number of cases confirmed. This data is made up of the number of people who returned from travel in the past few weeks and those who returned recently with symptoms. Thus, it is not a real growth of the infection, but a growth of the confirmed cases because it is now possible to carry out more tests, and because there are more people who just returned from travel. The spread of the virus in Quebec will be measured over the next few weeks. Be aware that the virus can take up to 11 days before causing symptoms and therefore, initiating a test procedure which will add a few more days to obtain the results. This means that if we all stay confined to the house for a few weeks, we will know who is carrying the virus and/or the carriers who will have recovered. These are important reasons for containment: identifying carriers, letting them heal and preventing them from infecting others even if they have no symptoms.

N.B.: It is not recommended to wear the mask in the absence of symptoms. The mask is useful for sick people to reduce the risk of spread.

2. What to do if you have symptoms?

For many people, the virus will only cause few flu-like symptoms. Here is the frequency of COVID-19 symptoms in 55,924 confirmed Chinese patients: fever (87.9%), dry cough (67.7%), fatigue (38.1%), wet cough (33.4%), shortness of breath (18.6%), sore throat (13.9%), headache (13.6%), body aches, joint pain (14.8%), chills (11.4%), nausea or vomiting (5.0%), nasal congestion (4.8%), diarrhea (3.7%), blood in the sputum (0.9%), conjunctivitis (0.8%).

Since these are flu-like symptoms, two other factors should be considered to assess our risk of it being the Covid-19 coronavirus: 1) having traveled or having been in contact with someone who has traveled recently (particularly if it is a country with a higher level of infection) and 2) have breathing difficulties. If you are having trouble breathing or are short of breath, it is important to consult a professional quickly. You can dial 811 or call this toll-free number: 1 877 644-4545. In the case of severe breathing difficulties, call 911.

3. What if we are told to go into quarantine?

Quarantine means no contact with the outside world, even with a mask or gloves. It is important to stay at home. All external services must be performed remotely. For example, groceries should be left on the doorstep and no one talks to the delivery person (or from afar). Ask for help from friends or family members if necessary, but they should stay outside. If you are alone, this is the main recommendation.

If you are not alone, if all the family members are already affected (travel) or if they already have symptoms, you should simply follow the situation and try to make sure that nobody misses anything, that they rest as much as possible, and that no one has difficulties breathing.

If only one person in a group or family is affected, be aware that the virus is spread by fine droplets when coughing. You can get coronavirus (COVID-19) when:
• our eyes, nose or mouth are in contact with the droplets of an infected person who coughs or sneezes;
• when our hands touch a contaminated object or surface and then touch our face.

The infected objects can be varied: blanket, cellular phone, utensils, computer, etc. It is therefore necessary to wash your hands frequently (15 to 20 seconds with soap), to reserve a personal hand towel for the infected person, to frequently disinfect the objects having been in contact with that person, and to keep your distance as much as possible, and all this, for 14 days. We should consider keeping our distance for a few days after the symptoms stop. 80% of infected people recover without special treatment.

4. How to get food and medicine?

For people aged 70 and over, it is very important not to come on site, both for grocery stores and pharmacies. Be aware that many grocery stores deliver to your home, but due to the high demand, there may be a delay of 5 to 10 days (plan ahead). For pharmacies, it’s the same thing and even some pharmacies come to deliver the medications to the car if you call to have them prepared. For more details on pharmacy visits, see the article: Coronavirus – Covid-19: Recommendations from a pharmacist written by Philippe Leng, pharmacist and collaborator on the Vitoli blog. There is also the Poso Plus pharmacy which delivers quickly everywhere in Quebec: 1-833-316-4324.

5. Online or telephone services?

Other services are available online! We recommend, among other things, the services of two collaborators from the Vitoli blog. They are nutritionist, Hélène Baribeau and psychologist, Stéphane Migneault. Offering telephone or telepractice consultations; do not hesitate to contact them. Here are their contact details:

6. 10 activities to do (several ideas to inspire you).

  1. The most common is surely to read a good book. Several municipal libraries offer free access to books in digital format. Visit their website.
  2. Repair objects, sew or build.
  3. Card games and board games.
  4. Learn a new language. There are free apps like Duolingo and Babbel.
  5. Go for a walk (keep your distance from people you know or not).
  6. Painting, drawing or other creative hobbies.
  7. Meditate or relax: free Respirelax and Petit BamBou applications.
  8. Cooking: it’s time to experiment; other family members can’t eat elsewhere. You can also prepare a few dishes in advance and freeze them.
  9. Start writing your thoughts, emotions, messages for later.
  10. Do housework or rearrange the house, do the things that you never have time to do.

7. Keep social contacts

Social contacts are very important during difficult times. The phone and apps like Skype or Facetime can be used to keep in touch remotely, catch up on news, exchange ideas, or contact old friends.

8. Pay attention to your stress

Stress reduces the efficiency of the immune system. Several articles have been written on the subject in connection with the current pandemic. Here are three that I recommend: a) Coronavirus and stress : Everything you need to know, that I wrote recently on the Vitoli blog and which explains certain negative effects of stress on health, b) COVID-19 Maximize our resilience, by Pascale Brillon (French only), professor in the psychology department of UQAM and c) COVID-19: The Power of Adaptation, by Sonia Lupine, director of the Center for research on stress at the University of Montreal.

9. Have projects

The current situation will be transient and it is important to keep your plans and take the time to plan what you would like to do when everything is finished. This allows you to develop resilience, to talk with your friends about your plans or with family members, to search for information that could be useful on the internet and to reduce your anxiety.

10. Be well informed, but not too much

Prime Minister François Legault’s daily press briefings are very interesting. Be careful not to get too much information from the media that tend to seek dramatic news and not report encouraging news. For additional information on a multitude of subjects, government and World Health Organization sites, here are reliable sources:
Covid-19: Self-care guide from the government of Quebec (24 pages).
• Government of Quebec information website: Coronavirus (COVID-19)
• Government of Canada information website: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Prevention and risks
• The World Health Organization website: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19): questions and answers.

I hope that this guide will be useful to you, remember that it is together that we can make a difference and that it is important to spread information and not the virus.