Statistics show that while COVID-19 is a potential hazard to anyone, regardless of age or health, seniors are taking the brunt of the disease. 78% of COVID-19 deaths come from those 65 and older. As a result, one of the primary concerns, especially with cases resurging nationwide, is what exactly puts seniors at risk and what can be done to help protect them. Here is a closer look.
What Puts Seniors At Risk?
To be clear, seniors aren’t necessarily at greater risk of catching COVID-19. The chance of infection is the same for everyone. Part of the reason for the confusion is that seniors are at greater risk of complications of COVID-19, potentially including death. As a result, in the early stages, the higher volume of seniors needing hospitalization may have confused many people.
What exactly puts seniors at greater risk for complications? While we still don’t entirely understand the “why” medically, it appears to have a lot to do with comorbid conditions. Seniors are more likely to have diabetes, heart conditions, respiratory conditions, or even to be overweight or obese. All of these have a high correlation with COVID-19 complications.
Managing Risks For Seniors
So, with this in mind, what can seniors do to minimize their chance of infection? Ultimately, the best way to avoid these complications right now is to avoid getting infected in the first place. Seniors who have retired, at least, don’t have to worry about infection at work, but they need to stay home as much as possible, especially if they have conditions that put them at added risk. For those at long-term care facilities, minimizing visitors is recommended. Those that do come should put themselves through some sort of test first.
Additional measures seniors can take on a daily basis include:
- Wearing a mask in all public settings, especially where social distancing isn’t possible.
- Having hand sanitizer on hand where soap and water may not be present. With sanitizer and soap, be sure to use proper techniques for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid any shared surfaces like buttons, handrails, or counters.
- Avoid touching your face as much as possible.
- Keep up with all your recommended vaccines.
Seniors can take a few other steps to ensure that they have the supplies that they need while also minimizing the amount of time they spend in contact with others. For example, reach out to your physician or local pharmacy to see how many of your appointments can be made through telehealth. Be sure to ask if you can order your medication online as well. Be sure to only work with approved online pharmacies.
Many groceries and household items can be ordered online as well, delivered to your door without any in-person contact. However, many of these services have delays due to more people using these systems. Seniors need to plan ahead. If you have to shop in-person, many stores offer hours specifically for seniors, which minimizes your exposure.
For seniors, being able to quickly showcase their status at risk of high-complications is going to be important. With a vaccine not likely to be widely available until mid-next-year at the earliest, permanently holding out in one’s home isn’t going to be feasible. At the same time, seniors need to be especially careful due to the potential harm a COVID-19 infection can cause. Being able to showcase their status could be key to helping them avoid areas where infected persons may have recently entered. However, a tool is needed to facilitate this, and that’s where the COVID-PreCheck app comes in. Visit covidprecheck.net or test it from the COVID PreCheck app. We also have a physician application available at doctor.covidprechecks.org.
In practice, this app allows people to self-attest themselves to confirm that they aren’t showing any symptoms of COVID or were in recent contact with someone that tested positive. They would then get a personalized QR code showing their status, usable before entering public spaces or private events. However, the physician web application allows users to be designated with a status of high risk for complications. This would also be displayed with a QR code. The QR code allows for another layer of transparency and protection for this part of the population.