Life under coronavirus means staying at home as much as possible — but you’ll likely need to make a trip to the grocery store or pharmacy at some point. Download or print this tip sheet to make sure you don’t bring the virus back home with you. Note: Recommendations for Covid-19 may change as officials learn more, so monitor your local health department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for updates.
Make a game plan
Designate one person to be your errand-runner to limit your outside exposures Set up a disinfecting station — an area outside your home or in a room with low foot trac where you can disinfect packaged food When you’re out Avoid coming within less than six feet of others Wipe handles on carts or baskets while shopping You don’t have to have gloves or a mask — just wash your hands frequently while you’re out and avoid touching your face When you get back 1)Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds 2) Disinfect takeout boxes and packaged foods at your disinfecting station Thoroughly 3) wash produce before putting it in your kitchen Disinfect Disinfect everything you touch — doorknobs, light switches, keys, phone, keyboards, remotes, etc. Use EPA-approved disinfectants (these include Clorox Disinfecting Wipes and certain Lysol sprays) and leave surfaces wet for 3-5 minutes
Delivery Ask workers to drop deliveries o on your doorstep or an area of your complex If they need you to come to the door, keep six feet of distance Pay and tip online when possible After you pick up mail from your mailbox, wash your hands Laundry Wash clothes, towels and linens regularly on the warmest setting Disinfect your laundry hamper, too, or place a removable liner inside it Don’t shake dirty laundry to avoid dispersing the virus in the air Guests You shouldn’t allow guests over right now If you need to house a family member or friend, avoid shared living spaces as much as you can If they need to enter shared living spaces, ask them to keep six feet of distance
If someone in your home gets sick: First, 1) consult your doctor 2) Isolate them in another room and 3) ask them to use a separate restroom Disinfect frequently touched surfaces every day Avoid sharing items with them Wear gloves when washing their laundry Continue to wash your hands frequently Ask them to wear a face mask if they have one Supplies you’ll need EPA-approved disinfectants If you don’t have disinfectants, make a bleach solution: Mix four teaspoons bleach per quart of water; or Use a 70% alcohol solution Laundry detergent Trash bags Prescription medicines (you can mail order these) Canned foods — fruits, veggies, beans Dry goods — breads, pastas, nut butters Frozen foods — meats, veggies, fruits
Pets Supervise your pet in your backyard It’s OK to play with them outside — just keep your distance from other humans If you’re sick, ask someone you live with to take care of them while you recover If you must care for them while you’re sick, wash your hands frequently
Sources: Dr. Leana Wen, former Baltimore City Health Commissioner and an emergency physician and public health professor at George Washington University in Washington. Dr. Koushik Kasanagottu, an internal medicine resident physician at John Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland, and who is among the thousands of health care professionals treating patients with coronavirus. Dr. Richard Kuhn, a virologist, director of the Purdue Institute of Inflammation, Immunology and Infectious Disease and editor-in-chief of the journal “Virology.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Reprinted from CNN . Written by Scottie Andrew, CNN
Older people are known to be more at risk of serious illness due to coronavirus, especially those with pre-existing conditions and those who are immune compromised. The majority of older adults do not live in residential facilities and instead are cared for by family members, therefore the coronavirus outbreak is especially worrisome for those who are living with elderly loved ones in a multigenerational home.
Family caregivers should take the following precautions to protect seniors from COVID-19:
Follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for social distancing. Don’t panic, but prepare your home to allow for the possibility that you will need to limit your time in public spaces. Be mindful of the CDC’s advice that, “The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus.”
Keep as much distance as possible between people in the home. For example, limit the elder to a single location in the house and don’t share personal items. The virus spreads easily among people in the same household, and older adults within the house are at higher risk levels than healthy adults and children. Make every effort to minimize the impact of multigenerational living.
Limit contact with the elder to one person. Designate a primary caregiver to provide all contact with the elder in the home. The primary caregiver should also limit their daily interactions with people outside the home to reduce their risk of exposure.
Wash hands with water and soap for at least 20 seconds. The CDC recommends we become very serious about personal hygiene, even within our own homes. Regular soap and water is the most effective protection against spreading the virus. If you are using a hand sanitizer, make sure it contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Cover all surfaces of the hands with sanitizer and rub until dry.
Clean all household surfaces daily with EPA-registered household disinfectants. Prioritize even more rigorous cleaning of high-use areas. For a list of effective disinfectants for use against COVID-19, click here: List N.
Postpone non-essential doctor and dentist visits.
Spend some time outside. The fear and anxiety accompanying this outbreak may feel overwhelming on top of the everyday stressors of caring for an aging parent. Limit your exposure to news reports and social media. Take a walk, step outside to breathe some fresh air, or lead your parent to the porch while you plant some spring flowers or stretch your legs in the back yard. Stay connected to family, friends and neighbors by teaching an elder how to Skype or Facetime. Your reaction to the situation influences the reaction of those in your household. Caregivers who are confident and calm in their preparations will be better prepared for the challenges that lie ahead.
Senior Living vs. In-Home Care Amid COVID-19
If your elderly loved one resides in a senior living community, it is important to respect the rules the facility has put in place to protect its residents. Long-term care facilities are dedicated to making the best care decisions possible during these unprecedented circumstances. Restricting visitors shields residents, while also protecting the general public from any viral danger.
Removing a senior from a senior living facility is not a guarantee for preventing the spread of infection and brings a whole new set of complications. Moving a senior, especially one with cognitive impairment can be very unsettling and, in some cases, may lead to further cognitive and behavioral decline. An in-home care plan must be in place to provide the level of care necessary to maintain the safety and health of an elderly loved one. If you are unable to provide the proper level of care at home, seniors are safer staying in their long-term care facilities. Stay involved in the care of your loved one by maintaining communication with the facility to respectfully express your concerns and inquire about measures the facility is taking to protect its residents while following your elder’s care plan.
Stay alert for fraud during the coronavirus national emergency. Con artists like to take advantage of people when they’re distracted.
Con artists may try to get your Medicare Number or personal information so they can steal your identity and commit Medicare fraud. Medicare fraud results in higher health care costs and taxes for everyone.
Protect yourself from Medicare fraud. Guard your Medicare card like it’s a credit card. Remember:
Medicare will never contact you for your Medicare Number or other personal information unless you’ve given them permission in advance.
Medicare will never call you to sell you anything.
You may get calls from people promising you things if you give them a Medicare Number. Don’t do it.
Medicare will never visit you at your home.
Medicare can’t enroll you over the phone unless you called first.
To our beloved Sugarloaf Community, It is lovely, but too quiet here at Sugarloaf now that the lifts have stopped running and the communal gathering place for Sugarloafers of all ages has ceased operations. For hundreds of people this is not just a play-place, it is their main source of employment. This is true for Sugarloaf employees, but also for workers at local restaurants and other local businesses. Many will be able to collect unemployment, and the government is in the process of decreasing wait time and increasing access. However, for many, the 60% unemployment payout may not be enough. Sugarloafers, whose hearts are tightly tied to this community, are already looking for ways to help. Therefore, Sugarloaf Area Christian Ministry has established the “2020 Community Fund” specifically to meet the need of locals who are in need of a helping hand during this time of upheaval and uncertainty. 100% of all gifts made to this fund will be used to support local needs for food, prescriptions, rent, and utilities. You may give through our secure portal at www.sugarloafministry.com or by check to: Sugarloaf Area Christian Ministry 5085 Access Road, Carrabassett Valley, ME 04947. Donations are tax deductible. Please indicate “2020 Community Fund”.
Pastors Pam and Earle Morse Sugarloaf Area Christian Ministry 207-237-2304 firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to apply for aid from the 2020 Community Fund, click this link
Science-backed tips for strengthening your immune response quickly and effectively
When it comes to fighting coronavirus, you already know that handwashing and avoiding those who may be sick are key precautions. But experts say that boosting your immune system may also give you an edge in fending off viruses and staying healthy this season. Here are five smart steps to add to your to-do list now.
You may be tempted to avoid the gym because it’s germy. But the reality is, working out is a powerful way to boost your immune system, says Mark Moyad, M.D., M.P.H., Jenkins/Pokempner director of preventive and alternative medicine at the University of Michigan Medical Center. Exercise causes your body’s antibodies and white blood cells to circulate more rapidly, which means they may be able to detect and zero in on bugs more quickly. Being active this way also lowers stress hormones, which reduces your chances of getting sick, Moyad adds.
Research suggests that exercise’s effects may be directly relevant to virus fighting, too. According to a recent study published in the BritishJournal of Sports Medicine, of 1,002 people surveyed, those who exercised at least five days a week had almost half the risk of coming down with a cold as those who were more sedentary. If they did get one, they reported less severe symptoms. There also may be a protective benefit from the sweat in your sweat session: Research has shown that simply raising your body temperature may help kill germs in their tracks.
The key to exercise, however, is to do it in moderation. “Like many other things, there’s a sweet spot — doing too much can also put so much stress on your body, it depresses your immune system,” explains Moyad. He recommends 30 to 60 minutes of exercise (either vigorous or moderate) most days of the week. If you’re a germophobe, you don’t even need to hit the fitness center, as walking outdoors will do the trick.
Watch your diet
“Eighty percent of your immune system is in the gut, so when it’s healthy, we tend to be able to fight off infections faster and better,” says Yufang Lin, M.D., of the Center for Integrative Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic. “When it’s not, our immune system is weaker and more susceptible to fighting off infection.”
In general, Lin recommends that people focus on a Mediterranean style of eating, which means a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats, found in foods such as fatty fish, nuts and olive oil. “This eating pattern is high in nutrients such as vitamin C, zinc and other antioxidants shown to help reduce inflammation and fight infection,” she explains. Adults between the ages of 65 and 79 who followed a Mediterranean type of diet, along with taking a daily 400 IU vitamin D supplement for a year, showed small increases in disease-fighting cells such as T cells, according to a 2018 study published in the journal Frontiers in Physiology.
It’s also important to limit meat, especially processed and fried foods, all of which are more inflammatory, Lin adds. “Generally, I recommend a whole food diet,” she says. What’s more, it’s smart to include fermented foods, such as yogurt, sauerkraut, miso and kefir, in your daily diet. These help build up the good bacteria in your gut, which, in turn, supports a healthy gut and immune system, Lin explains.
More on Coronavirus
Stay on top of stress
There’s a strong link between your immune health and your mental health. “When you’re under chronic stress or anxiety, your body produces stress hormones that suppress your immune system,” Moyad says. Research done at Carnegie Mellon University has found that people who are stressed are more susceptible to developing the common cold. In one study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 276 healthy adults were exposed to the cold virus, then monitored in quarantine for five days. Those who were stressed were more likely to produce cytokines, molecules that trigger inflammation, and were about twice as likely to get sick. In addition, people who are stressed are less likely to pay attention to other healthy habits, like eating right and getting enough sleep, which can affect immunity, Lin adds.
Although you can’t avoid stress in your life, you can adopt strategies to help you manage it better. A 2012 study, published in Annals of Internal Medicine, looked at adults 50 and older and found that those who either did a daily exercise routine or performed mindfulness meditation were less likely to get sick with a respiratory infection than subjects in a control group, and if they did get sick, they missed fewer days of work. While you might be skittish right now about going out to meet a friend for dinner or attending a book club, instead of canceling, consider catching up in a less crowded space. Research shows that the more social ties you have, the less susceptible you are to the common cold, possibly because friendships serve as a buffer against stress.
Get enough sleep
Z’s are another natural immune system booster. “Your immune system is like your computer — it needs moments of rest so it doesn’t become overheated,” Moyad explains. “Sleep reboots the system.” When you’re sleep-deprived, he adds, your body churns out stress hormones like cortisol to keep you awake and alert, which can suppress your immune system. People who got a full eight hours of shut-eye had higher levels of T cells than those who slept less, according to a 2019 study. Try to get at least seven hours of slumber a night, as a 2015 study, published in the journal Sleep, found that people who did so were four times less likely to come down with a cold than those who clocked less than six.
Be strategic about supplements
There’s no magic herb or vitamin you can pop to automatically prevent a cold, flu or other virus. But a 2017 review of 25 studies, published in the British Medical Journal, found that a moderate daily dose of vitamin D may offer protection if you’re already low in the sunshine vitamin, points out Tod Cooperman, M.D., president and editor in chief of ConsumerLab.com. The best way to find out if you’re lacking in vitamin D is to get your blood levels tested; you should be between 20-39 ng/mL (nanograms per milliliter). If you’re within that range, a daily supplement of about 600 to 800 IU is fine. If you’re low, talk with your doctor about additional supplementation — up to 2,000 IU a day. Cooperman advises taking it with meals that contain fats or oils, to increase absorption.
Other supplements, like zinc, have been going viral over the internet as a way to prevent coronavirus. But while the mineral has been shown to reduce the severity and duration of colds, there’s no research to suggest it can be protective against coronavirus, Moyad says. Plus, many older adults already get plenty of zinc because they take supplements such as Ocuvite to treat conditions such as age-related macular degeneration. “If you start piling more zinc on top of that, you run a real risk of developing zinc-related toxicity,” Moyad warns. There’s also no good evidence that other popular supplements, like vitamin C and elderberry, can help.
Instead, Lin recommends cooking with herbs such as garlic, ginger, rosemary, oregano and turmeric. All have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, she explains, and some, like garlic, have even been shown to be protective against colds. “When my patients ask me about taking supplements to enhance their immune system, I always go back to food, food, food,” she says. “Food is medicine.”
Some brazen scammers rip off unwary taxpayers by impersonating agents of the Internal Revenue Service. They’ll call and insist that a potential victim has an unpaid tax bill and faces arrest unless they pay up, immediately. In a recent three-year period, the Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax administration received reports of more than 1.6 million calls from IRS impersonators, with more than 8,600 victims collectively losing almost $47 million.
Con artists have numerous ways to make the hoax seem convincing. They can trick a caller ID to make it appear that the call is coming from an actual IRS office. They may even know part of the mark’s Social Security number.
One massive, long-running fraud scheme, eventually busted by federal authorities, saw call centers in India use information from data brokers to find potential victims, whom they contacted and scared into making payments via reloadable gift cards or wire transfers to co-conspirators in the United States. Older Americans were among the prime targets.
The IRS says scammers are increasingly turning to robocalls to reach as many potential victims as possible. Their ruses have become more elaborate, with some citing a nonexistent “federal student tax” that they claim their targets have neglected to pay. But you can deter the phony tax collectors by following some basic precautions.
It’s a phone call. The IRS communicates mostly through the mail, including in cases of delinquent taxes. It will generally make contact by phone or in person only after a taxpayer has received multiple written notices.
The pretend IRS official demands immediate payment and threatens to call police and have you arrested — things the IRS says it never does.
Do hang up immediately, unless you have reason to think you actually owe taxes.
Do forward any unsolicited emails in which someone claims to be from the IRS or the Treasury Department to email@example.com. Do not click on any links or open attachments.
Do consider filing a fraud alert or freezing your credit with the three major credit-reporting bureaus if a scammer knows part of your Social Security number.
Do ask for identification if you’re visited by someone claiming to be from the IRS. Actual employees carry two official credentials: a “pocket commission” and an HSPD-12 card, a standard ID for federal workers. An IRS employee will provide, on request, a dedicated agency phone number for you to verify the information on the card.
Don’t provide or confirm personal or financial information over the phone to someone who claims to be a government official.
Don’t respond to a purported IRS email or text message asking for your information. The IRS doesn’t do that.
Don’t agree to pay a tax bill with a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. Scammers prefer these methods because they’re difficult to trace and can be used almost anywhere.
Don’t give credit or debit card numbers to a caller claiming to be an IRS official. The IRS says it never asks for such information over the phone.
Don’t assume a caller who tells you to verify his or her phone number by checking the IRS website is on the level. Caller IDs can be rigged to display the number of a real IRS office.
Don’t be bullied. A scammer will issue threats and demands, but according to the IRS, if you actually owe back taxes, you will get a bill in the mail and have an opportunity to appeal or to question the amount.
April 1, 2020 is Census Day — the due date for Americans to take part in the decennial national headcount. Until then, and possibly beyond, you’ll probably hear a lot about, and a lot from, the U.S. Census Bureau. But census activity isn’t limited to years ending in 0, and neither is census fraud.
Census scammers contact you by phone, email, regular mail or home visit, or direct you to phony websites, seeking personal and financial information. Like other government impostors, they adopt the mantle of officialdom in hopes of winning your trust — and they have the added advantage of pretending to represent an agency specifically tasked with asking questions. Along with its once-a-decade population count, the Census Bureau conducts more than 130 surveys each year.
The biggest, the American Community Survey (ACS), is sent annually to more than 3.5 million randomly selected homes to gather population, economic, housing and other data that helps determine how hundreds of billions of dollars in state and federal money is distributed. With its detailed questions about things like income, assets, job status, household amenities, even your commute, the ACS does set off scam suspicions — it’s a frequent subject of calls to AARP’s Fraud Watch Network Helpline — but it is legitimate, and relatively easy to verify (see below).
There are some things no genuine census survey or agent will ask — for example, for your Social Security, credit card or bank account number. They won’t ask for money. They won’t threaten jail time if you don’t answer their questions. Any of these is a sure sign that a supposed census taker is phishing for ways to steal your identity, money or possessions.
Census fraud can hit at home or at work (the Census Bureau conducts business-related surveys, too). Be especially watchful for impostors in early and mid-spring of 2020, when the actual Census Bureau will be sending out reminders to fill out your form and following up in person at households that don’t respond. Count on these tips to head off census scams.
Editor’s note: This fraud tip sheet has been updated to remove incorrect information. It previously stated that a census survey or agent will not ask when you leave or return from work. The American Community Survey does in fact ask when respondents leave for work, but not when they return.
You get an unsolicited email purporting to be from the Census Bureau. For household surveys and the decennial Census, the agency almost always makes contact by mail.
A supposed census agent asks you for money or financial data, such as the number of and amount in your bank account.
A supposed census taker threatens you with arrest. Taking part in the Census is required by law, and you can be fined for not doing so, but you can’t be imprisoned.
Do verify that a census taker who comes to your home is legitimate. They should have a Census Bureau photo ID badge (with a Department of Commerce watermark and an expiration date) and a copy of the letter the bureau sent you. You can also search for an agent’s name in the Census Bureau’s online staff directory.
Do check that a census mailing has a return address of Jeffersonville, Ind., the site of the National Processing Center. If it’s from somewhere else, it’s not from the Census Bureau.
Do check the URL of any supposed Census website. Make sure it has a census.gov domain and is encrypted — look for https:// or a lock symbol in the browser window.
Don’t give your Social Security number, mother’s maiden name, or bank or credit card numbers to someone claiming to be from the Census Bureau. Genuine Census representatives will not ask for this information.
Don’t trust caller ID — scammers can use “spoofing” tools to make it appear they’re calling from a real Census Bureau number. Call the National Processing Center at 800-523-3205, 800-642-0469 or 800-877-8339 (TDD/TTY) to verify that a phone survey is legitimate.
AARP Tax-aide is available for people of all ages with low to moderate income. The aide will be available on Fridays at the Carrabassett Valley Public Library at 3209 Carrabassett Valley Drive from 12-4 pm. from February 14,2020 to April 10,2020.
Both Federal and State of Maine Tax Returns will be prepared by IRS-Certified Volunteer Tax Prepares and filed electronically.
The Internal Revenue Service’s new “U.S. Tax Return for Seniors” could make filing season a bit less taxing for some older taxpayers — provided you qualify to use it.
If you or your spouse were born before Jan. 2, 1955, you may be able to use Form 1040-SR instead of the more complicated Form 1040. (Note: You don’t have to be retired to file the 1040-SR.) Both forms use the same “building block” approach introduced last year that can be supplemented with additional schedules as needed. Taxpayers with straightforward tax situations should need to file only Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR with no additional schedules.
Congress mandated the 1040-SR because the previous simplified return, Form 1040-EZ, didn’t accommodate some typical items for older taxpayers, such as Social Security benefits, IRA distributions, and pension and annuity payments. As such, older filers had to fill out the more complex 1040 form even though their returns weren’t complicated. The 1040-SR does include those items. The 1040-EZ form is no longer in use.
Most tax-return software will generate a form 1040-SR; however, the form is most beneficial to filers who fill out paper returns by hand. If you use tax software to file taxes, as nearly 90 percent of taxpayers do, the software will choose which form is best for you. “If you are filing using a paper form, then there might be some benefit,” says Henry Grzes, lead manager for tax practice and ethics at the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. “If you are using tax preparation software, it really doesn’t matter.”
Technology is constantly changing, and with each new platform or device comes a new worry about security. Tech support scammers aim to exploit this fear, claiming your computer or mobile device is dangerously ill and needs an immediate, costly cure. These fake technicians are out to steal your money or your identity, not save your machine.
Microsoft has estimated that tech support scams victimize 3.3 million people a year, at an annual cost of $1.5 billion — with an average loss of more than $450 per victim. And these numbers are probably on the low side, since many victims never realize that their “repair” was unnecessary.
How It Works •You get an unsolicited phone call or email from a big tech company like Microsoft or Apple, or you see a pop-up message on your screen warning that a virus or other malicious program has infected your device, and you need to call the number on the screen right away.•A “technician” asks for remote access to your device, and once in, shows you some files that “prove” you have a major problem.•The “technician” says they can fix your problem for a fee, and then may offer you a monthly subscription to keep your device safe.
What You Should Know• Big tech companies like Microsoft or Apple say they don’t call customers out of the blue to warn them of problems on their devices.•The concerning files the “technician” may show you on your device are completely benign.•The scammer may ask you to pay by purchasing a gift card and providing the account number and PIN — a sure sign that it’s a scam, as is a request for payment by wire transfer.•The scammer may call back months later and offer you a refund for some phony reason, asking for your bank account information to deposit the money; this is a ruse.•Here’s audio of a tech support scam call as recorded by the Federal Trade Commission.
What You Should Do• Screen incoming calls with an answering machine or voice mail, and once you listen to the message, decide if it warrants a call back.•If the caller claims you have a problem with your computer or the software on your computer, it is a scam, so don’t engage or return the call.•If you get a pop-up that freezes your screen, shut down your computer and restart it.•Keep your security software, browser and operating system up to date.•If you think your device is infected, get it checked out by a reputable source; most big box electronics retailers offer tech support services.•If you realize you’ve fallen victim to this scam, and you’ve paid by credit card, contact your financial institution to dispute the charge and to cancel any monthly fees you may have agreed to.•Report scams to the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint.