Protecting Seniors Against COVID-19

March 17, 2020

Clinical Contributors to this Story

Manisha Santosh Parulekar, M.D. contributes to topics such as Sleep Disorders, Dementia.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) can affect people of all ages. But, it’s older adults and those with serious health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes or lung disease, who are most vulnerable.

“People older than 60 have the highest risk of developing severe complications related to COVID-19 because our immune systems weaken as we age,” warns Manisha Parulekar, M.D, the chief of Geriatrics at Hackensack University Medical Center. “Older adults are also more likely to have chronic health conditions that make it more difficult to recover.”

How can seniors reduce their risk?

“One of the most important things seniors can do is take this seriously,” says Dr. Parulekar. “I am not saying you have to go to extremes, cut off all human contact and stock up for months and months of quarantine, but be smart and take the recommended precautions.”

Those precautions are as follows:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, or having been in a public place.
  • If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid crowds, especially in poorly ventilated spaces. Your risk of exposure to respiratory viruses like COVID-19 may increase in crowded, closed-in settings with little air circulation if there are people in the crowd who are sick.
  • Avoid all non-essential travel including any travel by airplane.
  • Ensure you are up-to-date on all of your vaccines to avoid any other illnesses.

COVID-19 Close to Home

Take extra measures to put distance between yourself and other people to further reduce your risk of being exposed to this new coronavirus.

  • Stay home as much as possible.
  • Consider ways of getting food brought to your house through family, social or commercial networks.
  • Contact your health care provider to ask about obtaining extra necessary medications to have on hand.
  • Ensure that if you live alone you have a loved one or someone nearby check on you regularly.

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