Are precautions of the sort the CDC has endorsed really necessary, even in areas where the new coronavirus doesn’t yet appear to be circulating widely? What about disease-free adults in their 60s and 70s? Do they need to worry about going to a restaurant or a friend’s house for dinner? Are all outside activities ill-advised?
I asked several geriatricians for their advice. All cautioned that what they told me could be upended by unforeseen developments. Indeed, over the past week, the governors of about a dozen states — including California, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon and Washington — have told residents, and not just older adults, to stay inside, in an aggressive effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
Know the odds. Current warnings were originally based on data from China, which has reported that 80% of deaths from COVID-19 occurred among people age 60 and older.
In the US, the CDC said last week that of the 4,226 known COVID-19 cases at the time, 80% of US deaths were from people 65 and older. The same age group made up 53% and 45% of intensive care unit admissions and hospital admissions, respectively. People 85 and older “suffered the worst outcomes,” the report states.
People concerned about their susceptibility should do the following:
- Exercise caution and assess your risk – Follow official guidance, keeping abreast of federal and local health advice as much as possible. Additionally, try to keep your phone protected and unused while you’re out as hard surfaces can easily become contaminated; practice good hand hygiene; maintain safe distances from others; and wear cloth gloves at the store as viruses live a shorter time on soft surfaces.
- Consider your health – If you’re “FRAIL” or in bad health, you may need to self-isolate. Dr. John Morley, a professor of geriatrics at Saint Louis University School of Medicine, said to assess yourself and if you can answer yes to three of these questions, be more careful and isolate:
- F: fro fatigue: Are you consistently tired?
- R, for resilience: Are you unable to climb a flight of stairs?
- A, for aerobic: Are you unable to walk a block?
- I, for illnesses: If you’ve got five or more, that’s bad.
- L, for loss of weight: That’s not good.
- Foster well-being – Exercise, get plenty of sleep, keep communicating with friends and family, and stay away from negative social media and news if it’s causing you too much worry.
Information provided by ABCNews.GO.com.
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