Here’s Why The Elderly Face The Greatest Risk Of Severe Illness From Coronavirus

Updated on March 21st, 2020

There’s a lot to know about COVID-19, the new Coronavirus, but one thing is clear: The risk for death rises with the elderly.

A report from the CCDC:

The Chinese Center for Disease Control found that the fatality rate for people with Coronavirus was under 0.6% for people under age 49. But it rose to 3.7% for 60- to 70-year-olds, 8% for 70- to 80-year-olds, and a whopping 14.8% for people 85 and more. (Those rates are likely overblown because many people with mild Coronavirus have not been identified.)

The mortality rate

It was much higher for people with underlying conditions like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, chronic respiratory disease, high blood pressure, and, all of which are more usual with the elderly.

Scary numbers

Have organizations that work with groups of people over age 60, preparing for a potential surge of illness. People in retirement homes, who are often old, weak, and sick, are at particularly high risk. Retirement communities, senior centers,assisted-living facilities, and must also take measures on how to minimize risk and keep seniors informed and.

The deadly epidemic

It is hitting at a time when facilities that serve seniors have trouble retaining staff and recruiting. Pandemic staff illness(1) could make things severe. While it is not yet clear how long ill people can spread the virus,  elders should stay confined to home at least until they no longer have signs, which could be a week or more.

Nursing facilities and retirement communities and are familiar with dealing with other deadly viruses, like the norovirus and flu and, as well as weather that can disrupt staffing. The group, which represents aging services providers and nonprofit retirement communities, has called for swift preparedness.

[Read: What Scientists Have Learned From Coronavirus ]

Emergency plans

Members are alerting emergency plans that include increasing attention to infection control; making sure they have sufficient food, personal care supplies and cleaning,  coordinating plans with home care providers and hospitals and; communicating with residents and limiting group activities; and, staff and families, and about protecting others and themselves.

Elderly-care organizations are emphasizing what’s important for everybody. Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently. Stay home if you’re sick—cover sneezes. Keep your hands away from your head, because the virus spreads through contact with the nose, eyes, mouth.

[Read: Why Pregnant Women Should Be Extra Cautious With Coronavirus ]

AHCA guidelines

Recommended placing sick residents in the same wing or room. Protective gear like medical gowns and masks and are on backorder in some locations, say, experts, who have asked for government assistance with supplying.

Retirement centers, where the average age is 70 to 80, may also stop offering buffets and salad bars,  opting instead for table service in dining rooms or even food delivered to individual apartments. If staff are out sick, marketing and human resources personnel and administrators may pick up duties like cleaning or food service.

Retirement centers often advise people with cold symptoms not to enter, and that will also apply for people with symptoms of Coronavirus(2), which are identical. It is challenging to stop visits entirely at retirement homes. They have to balance residents’ safety with their rights. AHCA said that facilities could help families “visit” in other ways, like Skype, phone calls, or email. World leaders also told the group they would spike up efforts to implement infection-preventive procedures.

Monitoring the health

Washington based Acts Retirement-Life Communities said it would be monitoring the health of all employees, residents, visitors, and vendors, who have traveled to or plan to travel to high-risk places. It is also minimizing all nonessential business air travel by employees.

Avoiding large crowds

Avoiding large crowds

Older people should be especially diligent about washing hands and other infection reducing measures. It is advisable against traveling to countries now experiencing pandemics of COVID-19, and seniors should avoid the Seattle area. Avoiding large crowds —  sporting events, or bingo night, as well as shopping at peak times — could be a good idea.

Senior facilities should post signs asking any staff or visitors with signs to inform that before coming in. It is advisable to separate people with and without virus symptoms during an epidemic and to assign different staff members to each group. Facilities should refuse new admissions and then also cancel group activities.

[Read: Myths and Facts of Corona]

CDC (Centers for Disease Control)

The U.S.  CDC (Centers for Disease Control)  is monitoring the situation closely and is the best source of information. The CDC is urging individuals to stay calm and Share Facts, Not Fear. Among the CDC’s advice are these common-sense tips:

  • Avoid touching your nose, eyes, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Wash your hands often with water and medicated soap and for at least 15 seconds, particularly after going to the washroom; before taking food, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Stay home when you are ill.
  • Cover your sneeze or cough with a wipe, then throw the tissue in the trash.


While there is no vaccine for the COVID-19, it’s never too late for elders to get their annual flu shot. Talk to your pharmacist or physician about how you can protect yourself and those around you.

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