Senior citizens face a high coronavirus risk. Here’s what you can do
With the coronavirus pandemic showing no signs of abating, several nations have enforced strict measures such as suspension of travel, closing borders and restricting movements of its citizens, among others.
India, too, announced a 21-day lockdown to help contain the spread of the coronavirus that has infected more than 400,000 people globally and killed over 18,000.
The worst affected are senior citizens, according to the biggest case study on COVID-19 by JAMA. Countries such as China, Iran, and Italy showed that people in this category are twice as likely to contract the virus. This is largely due to weaker immune systems, which makes it harder for their bodies to fight off infection.
While global authorities have repeatedly stressed the need to take precautions and stay at home, it is imperative for the elder generation to be extra cautious due to their susceptibility in contracting the COVID-19.
SocialStory spoke with a few experts in the field of elder care, who shared some tips on ensuring a safe survival in these tough times.
“One must ensure that there is an increase in consumption of Vitamin C; this can be found in amla, citrus fruits, and supplements, among others,” said Prashanth Reddy, Founder and Director of Anvaaya Kin Care, a technology-enabled personalised senior care platform.
The company operates in Hyderabad, Bengaluru, and Chennai, and serves more than 1,000 families through personal care managers.
“Consuming more organic products that have a diverse bacteria population should also help in boosting immunity,” he added.
Prashanth offers a list of precautions to help elders mitigate the risk of contracting the virus.
- Get your daily dose of Vitamin D by spending time under the sun, while also socially distancing yourself
- Make sure you get enough sleep
- Monitor your blood glucose levels if you are diabetic
- Eat meals and take prescribed medications on time
Reddy also stressed on the need to break the chain of COVID-19 as it does not exhibit symptoms in a host’s body for three to four days, making it difficult to identify.
“…One cannot correctly predict such situations. This virus has the potential to bring the entire health system crashing, as seen in Italy, Iran and China. Everyone must closely follow government guidelines and enforce social distancing till the time the advisory is on. More so, senior citizens must avoid being around their children and grandchildren if things get worse,” Prashanth added.
Taking the right steps
Reddy’s Anvayaa has taken a few steps to insulate its staff and members from accidental exposure. Care managers have been exhaustively trained and briefed on implementing social distancing when interacting with elders, imparting correct advice, dispelling myths and rumours, and eliminating any glitches in the elders’ day-to-day needs.
The company claims to have a city-specific plan of action that involves supplying essentials like hand sanitisers and face masks to Anvayaa’s elder members due to the difficulty in finding them at stores.
Meanwhile, Columbia Pacific Communities, a developer of senior living communities, said its residents were well informed and aware of the situation.
“Strict measures are being taken in terms of social distancing… As residents of Columbia Pacific Communities, they must remain cautiously confident of an entire community having their back,” said Mohit Nirula, Chief Executive Officer.
In a nutshell
The same precautions that are prescribed for all citizens must be followed by seniors as well, but with even more diligence and higher discipline. Hand hygiene and social distancing are important to reduce the risk of exposure.
“There are very few things that are both selfish and sensible — social distancing is one such thing,” Mohit said.
However, one must also be cautious of misinformation that is rampant in the wake of social media and instant messaging services. Mohit warned people to stay away from “forwards” and misinformation on WhatsApp.
(Edited by Apoorva Puranik)