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Should I Visit at a Convalescent Home if I Am Ill?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 29 November 2016
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Most convalescent homes ask that one not visit patients if one is ill. This request should be taken seriously, since many in convalescent homes are in a fragile state of health to begin with. Those who are in convalescent homes due to recovery from burns, or from surgery tend to be less immune to common illnesses, and are likely to have more complications as a result of common illnesses.

One is not simply risking the health of the person one is visiting when one is ill. Many convalescent homes have patients sharing rooms. This means potentially exposing others to one’s viruses. Even if mom or dad wants to see you if you have a cold, this should be weighed against the fact that your little cold could have huge ramifications for someone you don’t even know.

Observing the policy of convalescent homes is a gesture of respect to all who might be housed there. It is most important to observe this policy during cold and flu season, usually the winter months. These are times when it is most likely that certain nasty colds and flus are likely to complicate recovery from people in a state of weakened health.

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While we tend to think of convalescent homes as homes for “old people,” this is clearly not the case anymore. People with complications of the AIDs virus, cancer, or serious injuries may all spend time in convalescent homes. They can be young or old, and they do deserve your consideration.

Unfortunately, with many cold viruses, contagion actually occurs before symptoms. In fact one is most likely to be contagious a day or two before the nose gets stuffy or the throat hurts. As a cold progresses, it is less contagious. So a tiny bit of remaining nasal congestion after a week of cold is not likely to be highly contagious.

However, in convalescent homes, one should take precautions when visiting family or friends. It is especially important to wash the hands prior to touching or holding hands with a patient. Further, if you use the restroom, eat something, or blow your nose, you should wash your hands again. This may be difficult to follow if you are blowing your nose frequently, or sneezing. Therefore one should not visit convalescent homes if one is still experiencing significant nasal or bronchial congestion.

Special care should be taken when children visit convalescent homes. Unlike adults, who usually are able to be alert to keeping sanitary, children are more likely to pass viruses onto adults because of poorer hygiene practices. Children should be clear of any virus, chicken pox exposure, and fever free prior to visiting convalescent homes.

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