Seniors and COVID-19

COVID-19 and Seniors

I’m guessing you are here because of your concern for COVID-19 and seniors. Since the virus continues to infect and kill people, we all still have questions.  I hope to answer a few here.

Introduction

As my friend says, “These viruses are out to get us! They’re kind of smart!”  He’s done some research himself because he wanted to know more than just what the media is reporting.  

So we talked about what is important to know about COVID-19.  I’m not sure I can answer all the questions, but here are the ones we discussed:

Seniors and COVID-19
geralt/Pixabay
  • What is it?
  • Where did it come from? 
  • How does it survive?
  • How is it spread?
  • What are the symptoms?
  • What should I do if I think I have it?
  • How can I avoid getting it?
  • Seniors and COVID-19

What is COVID-19?

First of all, why is it called that?  Per the CDC;

In COVID-19, ‘CO’ stands for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for disease. Formerly, this disease was referred to as “2019 novel coronavirus” or “2019-nCoV” “(CDC)  The 19 is for 2019 when it first broke out.

It is called a novel virus because it is new, as compared to a common virus like the ones that cause a cold.  It is also called SARS-CoV-2, to differentiate it from the former SARS virus of 2003.  Therefore it is also known as SARS2.

It is called corona because the scientist who first analyzed it saw its crown like formation; hence corona.  

Where Did it Come From?

There is pretty much an accepted consensus that it started in China, in the Wuhan area.  The common thread appears to be that the virus was in an animal(s) that was sold in a “wet” market, where animals are killed right there.  

So a human or humans, picked this virus up that way and it mutated and began to infect people with the symptoms we are now familiar with.  

Map: Confirmed cases of COVID-19 | MPR News

How is it Spread?

According to the WHO, there are four possible modes of transmission; 

  • Contact and droplet
  • Airborne transmission
  • Fomite transmission
  • Other

Contact and droplet

We should all realize by now that a person can have the virus but show no symptoms.  This is why it is important for everyone to wear a mask for now.  The virus is mainly spread through moisture droplets.  

These droplets can come from coughing, sneezing, talking, singing, or even just breathing!  They can stick on the susceptible person and then infect the nose, mouth, or even eyes!  

So contact with an infected person can transmit the disease.

Airborne transmission

By the same droplet, the virus can carry into the air and land on a person.  Same results as above.

Fomite transmission

It may also live on surfaces (fomite) , but the science isn’t definite about that yet.   The virus may live awhile on a surface and then the person can pick it up from that.  

Other

These other categories are not proven yet.  But there is mention in some research that it can be transmitted through feces.  Or from a mother’s milk.  If you want more information, see this article from WHO.

So the main medium is going to be from an infected person who coughs, sneezes or talks and disperses the virus within their exhalation.  Again, since many people don’t know if they are infected, it is vital for everyone to wear a mask.  

Since it is spread person to person, this is why we are quarantining and social distancing.  The further apart we interact and the more we stay home, the less likely we are to get the virus.  And then the cases will go down.  

This was demonstrated in California where I live.  We were quarantined early on.  We stayed home as much as possible, wore masks when we went out, and even wore protective gloves.  We learned again what our mothers always told us; wash your hands!  

And now we may have to do this again, as it appears we socialized too early, and cases are again mounting in California.

What Are the Symptoms of the Virus?

Here is a screenshot I took from the CDC site.  

I can’t stress enough the importance of keeping vigilant during these times.  As a senior, I hope you have a loved one to help you take care of yourself.  Even a close friend that checks on you periodically is helpful.  

My kids live 3000 miles away; one east and one west.  So I have a couple of friends that check on me regularly.  You should too. 

I learned the hard way to take my temperature when I’m not feeling well.  Years back I thought I just had the flu but was later hospitalized with borderline sepsis.  Had I been taking my temperature, I would have recognized how sick I was.  So if you are not feeling well, start by taking your temperature.

I found a really interesting techno site that features a smart thermometer, of all things.  Check out the website Withings.  (I hope to apply for an Affiliate program soon.  In the meantime I do not receive any fees for recommending this site.)

This is a great informative video about what COVID-19 does to the body.

What Should I Do if I Think I Have COVID-19?

From the above symptom information you should be able to evaluate if you have it.  Should you have any of the life threatening symptoms, go to the emergency room immediately.

If you are not sure, contact your healthcare provider.  They will be able to ascertain what you should do.

In the meantime, if you suspect you might have it, quarantine immediately, and let anyone know that you have had contact with.  Monitor your temperature.    

How to avoid getting the virus

  1. Wear a face mask – you are doing this for yourself and for others.  You are protecting yourself from getting the virus and others in case you are infected.  You are doing it for the elderly who are more at risk, and for the cancer patient who has a compromised immune system, and for people with respiratory problems.  So be thoughtful and kind and wear a mask!
  2. Wash your hands – Every time you touch something outside the house.  I think it is especially important after you have been shopping for groceries.  We touch so many items in the grocery store.  Wipe down your cart if you can; most grocery stores should supply wipes. 
  3. Social Distance –  The recommendation is at least six feet apart.  This is because the moisture droplets can apparently only travel about six feet.  Most of us have a habit of getting closer than that to people we are talking to.  However, that should not be our practice anymore.  If possible, get even further away than the six feet.   Can’t hurt!  

 

Seniors and COVID-19
geralt/Pixabay

 

I saw an elderly couple doing a great precaution.  He came back from the post office lobby and went around to the passenger side of the car where his wife was waiting.  She rolled down the window and sprayed his hands.  I assume it must have been a sanitizer.  So before he got into the car he had disinfected.  I’m going to try something like that too.  

Seniors and COVID19

What makes a senior more at risk during this pandemic?  

  • Weaker immune systems – just like everything else that ages in our bodies, our immune system ages too.  This means we can’t fight off  viruses as easily as the young can.  
  • Inability to care for self – many of the elderly have difficulty with day to day tasks, never mind self care if we are sick.  
  • Inability to see doctors – most elderly depend on a family member or someone else to get them to even a doctor appointment.  What about an emergency visit?  
  • Cut off from family and community – being isolated even before the quarantine meant that the elderly could be ill but no one would know.
  • Age related diabetes – 25% of people over 60 have diabetes.  People with diabetes that were infected with the virus were 6 times more often hospitalized and 12 times more likely to die!
  • Age related heart disease – the same statistics apply here as with diabetes.
  • Age related respiratory disease – like COPD, a weakened respiratory system makes us more susceptible to this virus, which attacks our lungs.
Seniors and COVID-19
geralt/Pixabay

So What?

Now that you know a little more about the virus, I hope you are taking care of yourself.  As a senior citizen we must advocate for ourselves.  There weren’t enough people advocating for those dear ones in the nursing homes apparently.  Do not be silent; if you are in need of help, tell someone.

I have an article where I list resources that are helpful to seniors during this time. Check it out here.

If you go out, please wear a mask.  Stand away from people.  And wash your hands!  Stay well!

Conclusion

I am not a medical professional.  I am however a senior citizen concerned for the welfare of others, especially in my age demographic.  Contact a doctor if you are unsure about anything I have written, or if you are concerned you are ill.  

Do you have questions or comments?  Want more information about a related topic in this subject?  New research occurs almost daily, so I am planning on another article.  Your thoughts would help us all.  Please leave them below.

Disclaimer

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