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Person bringing food to their loved one sick in bed with a mask on

COVID-19: Caring for Sick Loved Ones

If you live with or are caring for someone who has COVID-19, or is being asked to isolate as if they do, you have an important role to play in their recovery.

Following these steps can help prevent spreading the disease to others and ensure that your loved one has everything they need to make a full recovery.

Watch for new or worsening symptoms

Depending on your loved one’s age and whether or not they have other health conditions, their symptoms may be mild or more severe.

Keep contact information for your loved one’s doctor handy. If you notice symptoms getting worse, or new ones developing, you need to contact the doctor. In the case of an emergency, call 911 immediately and let the dispatcher know your loved one has or is suspected to have COVID-19. Emergencies include:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest.
  • New confusion or inability to wake up.
  • Bluish lips or face.

This list does not include every possible symptom. If you are concerned, call a doctor who can let you know whether it is an emergency or not.

Stop the spread of germs

Do your best to contain the virus to help keep you and others safe. There are many ways to do this:

  • Limit interactions: Your loved one needs to stay away from people, including you, as much as possible. Try to avoid sharing a bedroom, bathroom, and household items like dishes, towels and bedding. Consider delivering a cooler of drinks and food once or twice a day to limit the number of times you are exposed.
  • Keep face masks on hand: Make sure your loved one wears a face mask if they need to be around you or others. If your loved one is unable to wear a mask, you need to wear one every time you’re in the same room.
  • Wash your hands: This is very important. You should wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after interacting with your loved one. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth: This is how germs are transferred from surfaces to your body.
  • Keep things clean: Disinfect your home every day by cleaning all surfaces that are touched often, like counters, tabletops and doorknobs. Be sure to use a cleaning product approved by the Environmental Protection Agency to use against COVID-19.
  • Wash laundry thoroughly: Use the highest water temperature possible, wear disposable gloves and keep soiled items away from your body. Wash your hands immediately after removing the gloves.

Treat their symptoms

Make sure your loved one drinks plenty of fluids to stay hydrated and encourage them to rest often. Some over-the-counter medications may also help temporarily relieve symptoms. Ask your loved one’s doctor what kind of medication they recommend.

Fresh air can also be invigorating. When the weather is nice, open bedroom windows so your loved one can enjoy the outdoors.

To cure boredom, come up with ways you can help your loved one pass the time. For example, you could make a list of upcoming movies or TV shows you can both watch and discuss by phone or video.

Get creative with contact

Humans are social creatures, so being isolated from others can be challenging. Find ways for your loved one to stay connected to friends and family, and maintain what they can of their routine.

You could schedule a virtual dinner or bedtime traditions using video applications like FaceTime. If your loved one has kids, have them make get well soon cards and crafts that you can pass along with meals. A simple phone call or texting will also be appreciated.

Know when to end isolation

People with COVID-19 who have stayed home in isolation can return to regular activities when they meet all of the following conditions:

If they will not be tested:

  • No fever for at least 24 hours without using fever-reducing medication.
  • Other symptoms have improved (for example, cough and shortness of breath)
  • At least 10 days have passed since their symptoms first appeared.

Please note: loss of taste and smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery. Therefore, the presence of these symptoms should not delay the end of your isolation. If you were admitted to the hospital for COVID-19, your healthcare provider may recommend you stay in isolation for longer than 10 days after the first appearance of your symptoms.


Go to COVID-19 Toolkit page on OhioHealth blog


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