The coronavirus came as a surprise and showed how the world wasn’t prepared to face a global pandemic. Cases have been growing since then, and it will take a while until we can go back to our normal lives. Seniors, especially, are among the most vulnerable group of people, and need to be even more cautious about protecting themselves against the virus. This means only going outside when extremely necessary, and following all the recommendations when you do, such as staying six feet away from others, washing your hands regularly, and wearing a mask at all times.
It has been proven that masks are a great way to mitigate the virus. Since coronavirus spreads from person to person through respiratory droplets produced by coughing, sneezing, talking, or simply breathing, masks are a great help because they block those droplets, which prevents people (even those without symptoms) from infecting others. Unfortunately, it can be harder to use a mask when you’re older. The reduced visibility increases the chance of falling and masks make breathing even more difficult. That’s why it’s essential that seniors use masks appropriately to mitigate these risks.
When a Mask Is Not Advisable
Although a face mask is essential to restrain the spread of coronavirus, there are various occasions where it isn’t advisable to use one. For example, seniors who have trouble breathing or can’t remove a mask without assistance shouldn’t wear a mask. The same is true for active seniors doing physical activities or anything that may wet the mask, such as swimming. Finally, people who suffer from mental illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s or dementia, will have a hard time remembering why they have a mask on. In other words, even if the caregiver helps them put the mask on, patients will likely remove it without thinking.
Best Types of Face Masks for Seniors
Since the start of the pandemic, various companies have developed new secure face masks to increase the supply of such an essential and high-demand product. Surgical masks are the most common, as they’re used by the brave soldiers fighting the pandemic on the frontlines. Still, since they can only be used once and are essential for health professionals, we recommend going for other types of face masks.
Reusable cloth masks are the most comfortable to wear, as they’re easier on the senior’s skin. Moreover, they still provide enough security and are environmentally friendly – just make sure to wash them after each use carefully. On the other hand, N95 respirators are the best option for seniors who easily get out of breath, as they come with a valve that helps the air to circulate. Of course, they’re also secure, as ‘N95’ means the face mask filters at least 95 percent of airborne droplets and aerosols.
Finally, there are face shields – a protective plastic shield that goes from your forehead to the bottom of your chin. While these are excellent for extra protection, you’ll still need to use a face mask under it. It’s worth mentioning that one face mask will suffice – using two masks doesn’t add any extra protection, they just make it harder to breathe.
Safe Face Mask Wearing Tips for the Elderly
It’s vital that you wear your mask correctly to stay safe. Even if seniors wear the best mask on the market, they can still be contaminated due to improper handling and maintenance.
The face mask should cover the bridge of your nose to under your chin, and it needs to sit comfortably and securely enough to prevent you from adjusting it. This is extremely important because touching your face with your hands increases the risk of contracting COVID-19. So, it’s essential that you disinfect your hands before and after using the mask and only touch the elastic bands when either putting it on or taking it off. If the mask doesn’t sit right no matter what you try, we suggest using a 3D face mask bracket that you place between your mouth and the mask. The bracket adjusts the mask into a comfortable position that prevents foggy glasses and makes it easier to breathe.
Since it’s better to be safe than sorry, we recommend keeping some extra masks with you when going outside. In case something happens to the mask you’re wearing, you’ll always have another one as a backup. Face mask lanyards can also help in occasions where you frequently need to remove your mask. Instead of grabbing it with your hand or putting it in your pocket, you can just securely leave it on your neck. Last but not least, seniors should apply face lotion after using a mask for long periods, as the elastic can easily damage their skin.
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