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A 5-Step Coronavirus Survival Plan for Seniors


By Chris Orestis, President, LifeCare XChange

As the Coronavirus continues to spread across the globe and is becoming more widespread by the day in the United States, it is critical that the most vulnerable population being impacted understands how to be better prepared.

Seniors have been the hardest hit by the Coronavirus with the tragic death of eight residents in a nursing home in Washington State, and a much higher mortality rate among seniors registered so far globally. In fact (at this writing – March 8, 2020) the CDC confirms a 14.8% mortality rate for people age 80 and older, but only 1.3% for people in their 50s, 0.4% for people in their 40s, and 0.2% for people in their 30s and younger.

Mortality with Coronavirus is linked to the strength of a person’s respiratory system, and seniors are particularly vulnerable to respiratory conditions. In the case of Coronavirus, the air sacs of the lung could fill up with fluids, cutting off vital oxygen to the organs, which can induce failure and possible death. Adding to the danger facing seniors, is the contagious nature of the virus and the threat of it spreading in a confined population, such as in a nursing home or senior living community.

Fortunately, the Senior Care industry has taken action to combat these dangers and is working closely with the CDC, the World Health Organization, and CMS to receive daily information updates, coordinate best practices to safeguard residents (and staff), and monitor for any new outbreaks.

Seniors and their families should stay in close contact as this virus progresses. Here are 5 tips to better handle the Coronavirus situation:

  1. Make every attempt to cough or sneeze into a tissue, and then securely dispose of the tissue. If a tissue is not available, use your inner sleeve of your elbow.
  2. Continuously wash your hands with warm water and soap, or alcohol-based cleansers. Avoid touching your face and, in particular, your eyes, nose and mouth, unless you have washed your hands and not come into contact with any possible contamination.
  3. Clean and disinfect surfaces, such as electronic devices (cell phone, TV remote), and items that receive regular contact from hands, such as doorknobs and handles.
  4. The CDC has specifically warned that seniors (age 60 and above) and/or those with underlying health conditions, should avoid travel and gathering in areas with crowds and communal activity.
  5. If you are exhibiting flu-like symptoms or any respiratory difficulties, you should stay at home and avoid coming into contact with others. It is best to consult your doctor, and a Telemedicine consultation from home is an option that many patients can use to seek care and get prescriptions.

People should also be very careful about overreacting and about the reliability of the information they are getting. The best source is medical professionals, such as your doctor, and organizations like the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

People should be especially careful of fake news that is spreading across social media platforms, misinformation from political figures, and possible scammers looking to prey on frightened seniors. Dismiss foolish rumors, such as people should be avoiding Chinese food, or you can become infected by Corona beer (completely false!).

Smart hygiene, social distancing, keeping open lines of communication among family members, being well informed, avoiding unnecessary travel or crowds, and not being duped by bad actors are all smart strategies to get through the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Chris Orestis is a nationally recognized healthcare expert and senior advocate. He is a former Washington, D.C., lobbyist who has worked in both the White House and for the Senate Majority Leader on Capitol Hill. Orestis is author of the books Help on the Way and A Survival Guide to Aging, and has been speaking for over a decade across the country about senior finance and the secrets to aging with physical and financial health.

Reprinted from the April 2020 edition of the South Shore Senior News.