Living with Disabilities

Additional Information About Living with Disabilities During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Are people living with disabilities more at risk of getting COVID-19?

People living with disabilities are not naturallly at a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. However, people living with disabilities who also have underlying health conditions or are over the age of 65 may be at risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Some people living with disabilities may also have:

  • Limited mobility or rely on others for care and cannot maintain social distancing when interacting with others.
  • Trouble understanding information or practicing preventive measures, such as hand washing and social distancing.
  • Inability to communicate symptoms.

If you are an older adult or have serious underlying medical conditions, you might be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

How do I protect myself and others from COVID-19?

Take the same precautions as others:

  • Wash your hands frequently with warm water and soap for 20 seconds each time. This is the most important step to prevent the spread of illness. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Practice social distancing when possible. Avoid crowded spaces and keep 6 feet of space between you and others when doing essential activities including grocery shopping or picking up food, obtaining medication, walking or riding bikes outdoors, and going to work if an essential worker.
  • Wear a mask in public such as when grocery shopping or at the pharmacy. Learn more about how to make and use face masks. Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or who cannot remove the mask without help.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, or cough/sneeze in your upper sleeve.
  • Immediately throw away used tissues in the trash, then wash hands.
  • If you are sick, stay home unless you need medical care. Learn more information about how to protect yourself.

Ask caregivers the following questions before interacting with them. If they answer yes to any question, seek an alternative provider.

  • Do you have symptoms including but not limited to: fever, dry cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, chills, muscle pain, headache, and/or loss of taste or smell?
  • Have you had any close contact in the last 14 days with someone with a diagnosis of COVID-19?

Ask caregivers to practice everyday precautions listed above, and routinely clean frequently touched items, surfaces, assistive devices, and medical equipment.

What should I do if my caregiver has signs or has been diagnosed with COVID-19?

Report this to your caregiver’s agency immediately. If your caregiver is not employed through an agency, avoid close contact with your caretaker and secure someone else to assist you. If you need additional assistance reach out to Oakland County’s COVID-19 Help Hotline by calling 248-858-2110 or texting "OAKGOV COVID" to 468311.

If you were exposed to COVID-19, self-quarantine for 14 days and watch for symptoms. Symptoms may take 2–14 days to appear and include:

  • Fever
  • Dry cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sore throat
  • Chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Loss of taste or smell

If you believe you have COVID-19, follow the steps here.

How can I prepare?

  • Routinely check supply of non-prescription drugs, prescription drugs, and medical supplies to ensure you have at least a 30-day supply.
  • If you rely on caregivers through an agency, find out what measures they have in place to compensate for a potential workforce shortage.
  • Consider increasing the pool of people you can call upon if you need additional support (friends, neighbors, family).
  • Maintain a two-week supply of food and water at home.
  • Get copies and maintain electronic versions of health records. Ensure a trusted individual has access to these during an emergency.

How can I manage stress and anxiety right now?

Increased fear and anxiety along with isolation and feeling disconnected can cause strong emotions. Protecting mental health is very important at this time.

Here are some tips to cope:

  • Stay connected to your friends and family either over the phone or online.
  • Take breaks from Coronavirus (COVID-19) news and social media.
  • Take care of your body. Eat well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, and get plenty of sleep.
  • Tell your healthcare provider if you have feelings of sadness and anxiety that do not go away.

Managing Stress and AnxietyLearn more about managing stress and anxiety during the COVID-19 Pandemic. If you or a loved one are feeling sad or overwhelmed, you can call Oakland Community Health Network’s Resource and Crisis Helpline at 800-231-1127.If you have thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or chat with them online.
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