In the News: Coronavirus Resources for Aging Adults

The Coronavirus is going to be in the news for the many months to come. To ensure that all of our readers are given the best resources and support possible, we have compiled a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) to help you and your aging parent navigate this complicated period of time. As you monitor this information in the news about the coronavirus in the United States pay close attention to public health updates from the CDC Website, in addition to your local health departments and other health care facilities in your area.

Following your local, state and federal guidelines are your safest bet at this time. Be aware of fraud and abuse during this time period as well. Many, unfortunately, will also attempt to take advantage of a crisis so do not provide your financial bank accounts or order medical support or resources unsolicited. Talk with your physician and family if you are contacted by any solicitors.

What Is the Coronavirus?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), which is a trustworthy resource for information regarding infectious diseases, “Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.

Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans.”

What Are the Symptoms of Coronavirus?

The most common symptoms today are fever, cough and shortness of breath. If you or your aging loved one develop any of the following symptoms you should contact your doctor immediately and inform them of your symptoms, as well as how long you have experienced them.

In addition to the common symptoms, those listed below should get your attention and involve a healthcare provider right away.

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

Who Is At Risk of the Coronavirus?

According to the Center for Disease for Controls (CDC) older adults and those with chronic medical and health conditions (heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, respiratory diseases, and other compromised immune systems) are at the highest risk of contracting and getting most sick from the coronavirus. Those aged 50+ are at greater risk and those aged 80+ are at the greatest risk. Essentially, older adults and people considered elderly and senior are at higher risk than others at this time.

How to Minimize Risk of Coronavirus

The first step you can take is wash your hands thoroughly and regularly. Be prepared to stay home and know that it is OK to decline invitations or events for the short-term. Beyond this, senior officials have recommended the following for older adults:

  • Avoid large crowds in poorly ventilated areas
  • Consider delaying or postponing any trips on a plane, train or cruise ship
  • Get refills of your medications for the next several weeks
  • Take precaution if you are out in public by staying away from those who are sick
  • Limit close contact with those in public spaces
  • Carry hand sanitizer with you at all times
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Clean surfaces regularly and be careful when you touch surfaces
  • Stay home when you are sick

What to Do If You Have Symptoms of Coronavirus

The CDC recommends that if you think you have been exposed to the coronavirus (COVID-19) to contact your doctor immediately. Should you have the virus your doctor will provide the specific protocol on what to do. Do not accept a simple internet search to make your own diagnosis and contact your physician to discuss what to do.

Should You Be Concerned About Senior Living Facilities?

The coronavirus is a real problem for nursing homes throughout the nation but there is clear guidance and practical steps being taken. If you are concerned, you should reach out to your aging loved one’s facilities to understand what they are doing to prepare for and manage the virus.

Additional Resources

There are numerous information sources available. Below is a list of the top, most trustworthy sources you should use for updated information or to access state-specific updates.

The CDC has a summary page that includes various details on symptoms, situation details, travel updates and other critical pieces of information.

Administration on Community Living (ACL) has a variety of resources and information available. It is a great resource to explore and connect with background, updates and links to state information.

The Johns Hopkins University (JHU) has an easy-to-read map of the coronavirus across the globe.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the Department of Labor has a variety of resources for employers and employers about the coronavirus.

The National Council on Aging (NCOA) offers a summary of information and provides regular updates on the latest coronavirus news.