In a Facebook post, Gurugram-based Dr Shibal Bhartiya, an ophthalmic surgeon recounted how, in the last week, she has had to break into the homes of three friends who were COVID-19 positive and living alone. Dr Shibal is specialising in Glaucoma and Ocular Surface Diseases, currently with Fortis Memorial Research Institute.
While two of her friends were not responding to any of her calls or text messages, the other was too weak and breathless to come to the door and unlatch it. One of the three friends has been admitted to a hospital, while the other two are recuperating well at home.
In an attempt to help those who live by themselves, Dr Shibal has made a list of things that you could consider doing to keep yourself protected from COVID-19 and other general ailments.
In her post, she calls this a ‘Do This Now’ list for anyone living alone, with or without COVID-19.
1. Stock up on medication. These should be enough to last you four weeks. They can include paracetamol, vitamins, anti-allergy, your favourite cough syrup, in addition to your regular medication. Keeping a steam inhaler and pulse oximeter handy is also a good idea.
2. Stock up on groceries, ready to eat meals, juices and soups. Gatorade, packaged juices, aerated drinks — anything works. Hydration is the key here. Ensure that you have enough meals, snacks and drinks to last you two weeks. Find the phone number for a local meal service, one that best suits your palate, and keep it handy.
3. It is imperative that you keep your doctor’s phone number handy. In your draft box, keep a message drafted with your medical history. So, if and when needed, all you have to do is add what is happening right then. This might also come in handy in case the person attending to you is unaware of your medical history.
4. Talk to your neighbours, treat WhatsApp groups as a god sent, and not an intrusion. Your Resident Welfare Association (RWA) is a friend, do keep that in mind. Leave a set of keys with a neighbour or a friend who lives less than ten minutes away.
5. Set up a support group. Maybe five of you can check on each other. With a meme, a message, an emoji or even an hour long chat. The idea is to ensure that you are there for each other, something that ensures that people will know if and when you’re dipping.
6. When unwell, make arrangements with a friend or family member for a twice a day wellness check call or text. Follow this to the ‘T’.
7. Seek help, immediately, if you feel something is amiss – whether it is emotional or medical. This is not the time to be brave.
8. If you live with a child, tell them whom to reach out to in case of an emergency (COVID-19 or otherwise).
9. India does not recognise a healthcare proxy. You have to make a living will about how you want to be treated and get it registered via a lawyer.
Dr Shibal says that she too has made a care plan for herself, which has been shared with three of her closest friends, one of whom is a doctor who will be taking care of her, should the need arise. While it has no legal sanction, it is a document that might be taken into consideration while being treated.
10. Introduce your friends to your family, so they know whom to reach out to, should they be needed. Family will have to be called upon for consent. Friends can’t do that.
11. Keep your medical insurance papers, the Third Party Administrator (TPA) details and your insurance agent details handy and easily accessible. Share this with your ‘go-to person’.
(Edited by Divya Sethu)