COVID-19 Guide

What’s safe for seniors during the pandemic?

From buying groceries to visiting grandchildren, we answer common questions about senior safety during the pandemic

Q: Can I shop for groceries and run other personal errands?

A: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still recommends that seniors limit errands by using home delivery and online ordering if possible. If you must go out for errands, wear a mask and maintain 6 feet of distance from others. See if businesses near you offer designated shopping hours for vulnerable populations. Try to utilize drive-up options when available, such as at the pharmacy or bank. Avoid touching your face, and wash your hands immediately upon returning home. If you are sick, stay home.

Q: Should I keep my doctor’s appointment(s)?

A: Physician practices are open. Your physician practice will work with you to schedule your appointment or see if your visit can be conducted via telemedicine. Remember to wear a mask to your appointment, and maintain 6 feet of distance between yourself and others. Use hand sanitizer if it is available at your doctor’s office. Don’t touch your face while away from home, and wash your hands immediately upon return. If you are sick or believe you may have COVID-19, notify your doctor and follow their guidance.

Q: Can I visit my friends, children and/or grandchildren?

A: In phase three of Virginia’s “Safer at Home” plan, gatherings of 250 people or less are permitted. Seniors are still considered at high-risk, so the less in-person contact you have with other people, the safer you are. However, some grandparents provide child care. For others, visiting with friends and family is an important part of good mental and emotional health. If you visit with others, it’s always best to do so outside, where the risk of transmission is lowest. Everyone should still wear a mask indoors, but also outside when 6 feet of distance cannot be maintained. Avoid shaking hands, hugging and other touch-based gestures. A simple wave and saying “hello” are safest. If you are dining together, bringing your own food and drink is best to avoid touching common utensils and dispensers.

Q: Can I travel or stay at a vacation home?

A: The CDC says that travel increases your risk of getting and spreading COVID-19. If you choose to travel, consider whether there is community spread of the disease in your destination, which increases your risk of exposure. You may also want to check if your destination requires travelers to self-isolate upon arrival. Different methods of travel have different risks. If you are traveling a short distance, driving your own car is best so long as you do not make many stops for gas, food or lodging. For longer trips, flying may be best. Though airports have crowds and many high-touch surfaces, the air circulation in the cabin makes it harder for germs to spread. You may not be able to distance yourself from passengers if the flight is full, however. Wear a mask and keep 6 feet of distance whenever you interact with people on your trip, and wash your hands frequently.

Find COVID-19 resources for older adults at bit.ly/resources-for-seniors.

You can prepare your care plan with your doctor and/or with your family. Find a care plan template at bit.ly/make-a-care-plan.