Health Advice



Mayo Clinic Q And A: COVID-19 and people with disabilities

From Mayo Clinic News Network, Mayo Clinic News Network on

Published in Health & Fitness

Even if you are being diligent with social distancing and hand-washing, if your father is in a wheelchair, he and you, as his caregiver, should consider these additional precautions:

Maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from others, when possible.

Wash the face and hands after being in public and after having in-person conversations.

Use an antibacterial solution to clean high-touch surfaces, such as wheels, brakes and push rims of a manual wheelchair chair, throughout the day. For a power wheelchair, use an antibacterial solution to clean the joystick, and any other controls, armrests, tray or any parts your hands touch.

If your father uses other assistive devices, like walkers or canes, be sure to regularly wipe those with antibacterial products, too. If your father relies on a ventilator, you will want to be diligent about cleaning and disinfecting the medical equipment, and changing the filters as directed by the manufacturer, too. As a caregiver, you will want to wear a mask when caring for your father. You also will want to wear an eye shield if you are suctioning his oral and respiratory secretions. Lastly, I also would recommend that you develop a backup plan, including identifying an alternative caregiver, in the event that you or your husband become ill and cannot care for your father.

You also may want to have a conversation with your father's health care provider to confirm what symptoms or issues you want to be mindful of that could warrant a call to 911.

In the meantime, continue to practice social distancing and good hand hygiene to protect yourself and your loved ones from COVID-19.


Dr. Kristin Garlanger, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota

For the latest updates on the COVID-19 pandemic, check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. For more information and COVID-19 coverage, go to the Mayo Clinic News Network and

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