Elderly Care: Is It a Cold or COVID-19?

Elderly Care: Is It a Cold or COVID-19?

 August 27, 2022

A man with a white shirt and blue shirt is blowing his nose

One morning your parent wakes up with the sniffles. Or maybe he sneezes a whole bunch or comments that his throat feels a little scratchy. As everyone continues to deal with and manage COVID-19 in the world, you might be wondering whether it’s time to get a home COVID test. Perhaps you should take your parent to the doctor. Or do you just wait and see if it’s a simple cold or even a seasonal allergy?

This is a common question for those who provide those who take care of an aging loved one. It’s not easy to know what to do. But here are some ways to help you determine if you should take the next step and check for COVID. 

COVID-19, the common cold, and seasonal allergies have similar signs and symptoms. Here is a list of the most common symptoms and when they’re likely to occur. It’s essential to remember that COVID-19 presents very differently in everyone, so if you have an at-home test, it never hurts to test your elderly loved one to be sure.


While a cough can happen with a cold, COVID-19, and allergies, it’s usually slightly different for COVID-19. COVID-19 often has a dry cough. If you’ve hired someone to provide elderly care, ask for updates from them if they notice this symptom or any of the following. 

Muscle Aches and Tiredness

One of the symptoms often reported with COVID-19 is tiredness. Next in line is muscle aches. Usually, neither of these symptoms is very common with colds or allergies. If your elderly care provider notices extreme tiredness in your parent while providing elderly care, it might be a good time to test, especially if other symptoms are also occurring. 

Runny nose and sore throat

These are often the most confusing symptoms because they are prevalent in all three cases – a cold, COVID-19, and allergies. Look for them to also be combined with achiness or fatigue to determine if a COVID-19 test should be given or a doctor visit. 


A fever is most often associated with COVID-19. While not everyone who has COVID-19 will get a fever, if your parent has a fever, then testing should occur. A fever means the body is fighting off something, so even if it’s not COVID-19, that’s a good place to start trying to determine what is ailing your parent. 

Diarrhea or Vomiting

While not always symptoms of COVID-19, both could indicate an infection. Colds and allergies rarely cause these symptoms. 

Loss of Smell or Taste

If your parent loses his taste or can’t detect scents early, it could be a symptom of COVID-19. 

Knowledge is power and will help you to know your next best step when taking care of your senior loved one, so most of the time, starting with a home COVID-19 test is a great place to begin determining what’s making your loved one feel so awful. The sooner you know what’s going on, the more quickly you can make sure the proper treatment is given, and your parent can get back on the road to recovery. 

If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring Elderly Care in Greentree, PA, please contact the caring staff at In-Home Quality Care today. Serving the Greater Pittsburgh Area since 1990! Call 412-421-5202