Advice for older adults in the face of coronavirus

The National Council on Aging (NCOA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) shared the following information for older adults to help them protect their health against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19):

The CDC has identified older adults and people who have severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung, or kidney disease at higher risk for more serious COVID-19 illness. According to the CDC, older people are twice as likely to have serious COVID-19 illness. This is likely because as people age, their immune systems change, making it harder for their body to fight off diseases and infection, and because many older adults are also more likely to have underlying health conditions that make it harder to cope with and recover from illness. Age increases the risk that the respiratory system or lungs will shut down when an older person has COVID-19 disease.

CDC recommends that people at higher risk take the following actions:

  • Stay at home as much as possible.
  • Make sure you have access to several weeks of medications, food, and supplies in case you need to stay home for prolonged periods of time.
  • When you go out in public, keep away from others who are sick, limit close contact, and wash your hands often.
  • Avoid crowds.
  • Stay up to date on travel health notices.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said people with serious chronic conditions, especially the elderly, should think twice about traveling or going to crowded places. He advised that these individuals take the simple steps of “not putting yourself in a situation—whatever that might be—that might increase the risk given your situation.”

Other common-sense tips from CDC include:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

James Firman, president of NCOA, said older adults “are especially vulnerable to the coronavirus. The latest research found the median age of those infected to be 59. In the United States, the first reported virus-related fatalities were Americans over age 50, and the data available from China and other countries mirrors those results.”

NCOA believes “a fully funded public health response that includes providing Medicare coverage of potential vaccines and other treatment options will save lives and help contain the spread of this deadly virus in our communities.”