How to Care For the Elderly During COVID-19

By on May 14, 2020

Even as the devastating effects of COVID-19 pandemic are spreading, another tragedy is in the making: the unimaginable suffering for our older people. The elderly are the ones most vulnerable to the effects of coronavirus. Studies have suggested that those aged over 60, especially those with existing medical conditions, are most prone to COVID-19. Conditions like heart issues, lung disease, cancer, or diabetes make them more vulnerable to the virus than other age groups. You can easily misread the symptoms shown by older adults. That happens in part because the immune system of older people is not as responsive as it once was. A weaker immune system with an underlying medical condition may even mask the actual symptoms of COVID-19 in them. Below we will try to identify the most common symptoms in the elderly and tell you how to take care of them during such conditions:

Silent Symptoms in the Elderly

While the common signs of COVID-19 are high fever and dry cough, these symptoms are often present differently in elders. For example, the temperature associated with illness may not be there, or respiratory problems get masked by other co-occurring or preexisting conditions like COPD. To detect COVID-19 symptoms in the elderly.

Let us take a look at some “a typical’ signs in the elderly:

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  • Fatigue, Tiredness and Excessive Sleepiness


Stay at home orders, and self-quarantine has already taken its toll on everybody, and the elderly are not so different. However, if your elderly family member shows unusual sleep patterns or has frequent naps, this could very well be an atypical symptom of COVID-19. Besides typical symptoms, the virus causes tiredness and fatigue on a scale more significant than any other disease. Lethargy is also one of the atypical symptoms besides fatigue that shows our elderly need prompt medical attention. That is the most comfortable symptom that can be detected to take preventive measures. If you are incredibly concerned, then enrolling into an mph online program will be of great benefit, since that way you will have all the necessary knowledge to care for your elderly.


  • Loss of Appetite


Another atypical symptom of COVID-19 in the elderly is the loss of appetite. They already have a weak immune system, and lack of protein and energy makes the condition even worse. Loss of appetite weakens their already compromised immune system and makes them vulnerable to disease. 


  • Depression


Isolated seniors may become depressed or apathetic due to the virus, and that is a silent symptom as well. Depression can occur because of not getting enough medical care or not meeting other essential needs from family members. Keeping the distance from one another may cause them to go to a depressive state. At this point, they need more attention and care, so they don’t have depression silently building up inside.


  • Dizziness and Disorientation


Loss of appetite and depression gives rise to weakness in the body that causes dizziness and increases their chances of falls. Many a time during dizziness, they collapse and injure themselves severely leading to hospitalization. Besides dizziness, the elderly with the virus could also suffer from disorientation, just like patients who have suffered a stroke. 

Preventive Measures

Once you have identified usual or atypical symptoms in the elderly, taking immediate preventive measures becomes a priority for the affected and their family members. Some of these preventions are:


  • Social Distancing


Practice social distancing but not social isolation by limiting your in-person visits. Social distancing does not mean isolating your elderly as it can have adverse effects on their immunity and mental health.


  • Encourage Use of Technology


Show them how to use smartphones, tablets, and laptops for video chat and calls. Encourage family members outside of your household to stay connected with them and lift their spirits.


  • Regular Monitoring for Signs


Immediately seek medical attention if an elderly shows signs of a respiratory problem with persistent chest pain or pressure.  Let the doctor know if the elderly have other chronic diseases so they can run a proper diagnostic on them. So, he can determine if conditions are regular or have any link to the virus at all.


  • Hand Hygiene


Wash your hands and keep everything sanitized before providing care for the elderly. In this way, you will not only care for them but also yourself.


  • Opt for Telemedicine


Postpone unnecessary visits to doctors and avoid annual checkups and elective procedures for some time. Ask the doctors if they provide telemedicine services to keep your elders in check in case of emergency. Doctors can communicate via video chats, emails, or other platforms, so use them to your advantage.


  • Stock Up on Medications


 Make sure you have all the necessary medications on hand and make a plan about taking care of your elderly. You are taking things through before time can help you reduce stress and make everyone feel involved.

COVID-19 has not left anyone untouched by its wrath, and everyone is feeling vulnerable to it. While younger people with healthy immune systems can withstand it to some degree, our elderly are not so lucky. Studies on coronavirus until now have suggested that elderly patients are the group most vulnerable to contraction and even death because of it. However, they might not show visible signs and symptoms like others, so as a caregiver, we need to keep an eye on them. Preventive measures are a must as soon as we identify their illness.

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How to Care For the Elderly During COVID-19