While there is still limited information regarding risk factors, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed older adults, 65 years and older, are at higher risk for severe illness. Picture: Pexels
While there is still limited information regarding risk factors, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed older adults, 65 years and older, are at higher risk for severe illness. Picture: Pexels

Elderly are most vulnerable during Covid-19. Here's how to take care of them

By Viwe Ndongeni-Ntlebi Time of article published Apr 16, 2020

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No one is immune to the coronavirus. That said, the information shows that your risk for severe illness from Covid-19 increases with age.

While there is still limited information regarding risk factors, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed older adults, 65 years and older, are at higher risk for severe illness. 

Dr Hans Henri P. Kluge, World Health Organization (WHO) regional director for Europe, said in a statement that some of the reasons older people are greatly impacted by Covid-19 include the physiological changes associated with ageing, decreased immune function and multimorbidity which expose older adults to be more susceptible to the infection itself and make them more likely to suffer severely from covid-19 disease and more serious complications.

“But age is not the only risk for severe disease. The very notion that Covid-19 only affects older people is factually wrong. 

“As a colleague of mine recently said, young people are not invincible. Ten to 15 percent of people under 50 have moderate to severe infection (in Europe).  Severe cases of the disease have been seen in people in their teens or twenties, with many requiring intensive care and some unfortunately passing away.”

On a positive note, Kluge says there are reports of people over the age of 100 who were admitted to hospital for Covid-19 and have now since made a complete recovery. It is becoming clearer that the healthier you were before the pandemic plays a crucial role. “People who age healthily are less at risk”

With all this knowledge, fear and anxiety about the Covid-19 pandemic can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions.

Now more than ever, we need to take steps to care for and protect our elderly loved ones. 

CareChamp, a home based care nursing that prioritises the safety and well-being of older people, have put together some tips on how you can protect them.

Remain calm

Stress can weaken the immune system, so do your best to put older adults in your care at ease. Try not to panic and just make sure to cover the basics. It may be a good idea - for you and for them - to take breaks from watching or listening to media coverage. Following non-stop news updates can be overwhelming.

Protect your own health

Just like in an emergency plane landing, the number one thing we can do to keep others safe is to protect ourselves first. Follow official guidelines by washing your hands regularly with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser, keeping your hands away from your face, and avoiding close contact with anyone who is sick.

Stick to a routine (as much as possible)

Maintaining a sense of normalcy - especially in such uncertain times - can act as a security blanket. Encourage your loved one/s to get up, get dressed, and make their bed just like they would any other day.

Create healthy habits

Physical exercise, enough sleep, and a nutrient-rich diet are all factors linked to mental health and well-being. Getting outdoors is good for your immune system. If your loved one is hesitant to go outside, then open windows to encourage airflow. Support yourself and the ones you love by making self-care a priority right now.

Think ahead

The safest place for them to be is at home. Talk to their doctors about stocking up on prescription medicines and the option of at-home appointments.

Think outside the box

There’s no better time than the present to get lost in a world of online entertainment. Think audiobooks, podcasts, and streaming services. If your loved one is more old-fashioned, then encourage them to keep busy by catching up on their reading list, playing a board game, or building a puzzle.

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