Health problems seem to be part and parcel to aging, but we’re currently seeing a new type of health risk with COVID-19 which definitely applies to older Americans. The virus has reached pandemic proportions and in the United States is only beginning to ramp up. Many people are frightened, and this includes our older generation.
A big reason for this fear is COVID-19 seems to be especially dangerous for those over the age of 65. The majority of mortalities in China and Italy have both been people withing that age group. There’s no reason to believe that won’t continue to be the case here in America.
As we age, our immune system weakens and our body’s ability to fight off infections becomes less. Additionally, other health problems begin to affect people as they age, including cardiovascular and respiratory issues. This is problematic because, with COVID-19, these underlying health conditions greatly increase one’s risk should they contract the virus.
Further, some older adults aren’t capable of handling all their activities of daily living with autonomy, so depend on others to help them. This is true of anyone living in a nursing home, long-term care facility, or assisted living facility. Again, this increases risk because the virus spreads by a human to human contact. Isolation and quarantine measure may be impossible for these people.
Even those who live in retirement communities or independent living facilities can be at increased risk. Though this setting lends themselves to social distancing better than the above, it’s still a communal setting where isolation may be more difficult to achieve. Often in these settings illnesses introduced can cause a disproportionately large percentage of cases when compared to national averages.
Many retirement communities and nursing homes have recently made headlines due to COVID-19. In some facilities as many as 16 cases have been reported, with multiple deaths occurring. Due to this, the CDC has issued guidelines to help prevent these types of occurrences and they’re specific to senior living arrangements. They cover important points like limiting people coming in and out, and proper prevention and screening procedures to follow.
These can be scary times. While there’s no avoiding that senior citizens are at higher risk should they contract COVID-19, there’s still something that can be done about it. And that is prevention. Seniors who don’t get the illness have no increased risks.
This means that as a person who’s 65 or older, you need to be hypervigilant about your actions. Social distancing to the highest degree must be applied, even if you live within a group setting. Stay in your room as much as possible. Wash your hands frequently and in the proper manner. Sanitize and avoid surfaces that lots of people touch, such as doorknobs. Avoid touching your face. Keep up with your sleep, nutrition, and any medical treatment you’re receiving for medical conditions. And most importantly, don’t travel or have visitors during this time.