There’s plenty of evidence supporting that the risk of severe illness from COVID-19 increases with age. Severe illness means that the person afflicted with the COVID-19 virus may require hospitalization, intensive care, or a ventilator to survive. In such cases, the risk of mortality also increases. In the United States alone, 8 out of 10 COVID-19 deaths have been in adults 65 years old or older. And in Canada, 82% of COVID-19 deaths have been in elderly persons in long-term care facilities.

In times like this, senior health takes center-stage. If you are living with or caring for an elderly loved one aged 65 and older (or even just anyone nearing 50), it is wise to take extra precautions in safeguarding their health. Of course, there are other factors that come into play aside from age, numbers don’t lie. Older adults, in general, need to have extra protection – and this article will give you helpful tips to do just that.

Let’s get started!

Elderly person eating a healthy, well-balanced meal

1. Involve the Whole Household

Households can be seen as one system. And because elderly persons are likely to have underlying conditions and/or compromised immune systems, they’re susceptible to contracting the virus if another member in the household gets it. Therefore, senior health is not in a silo – it involves all members of the household.

2. Be Informed & Respond Quickly

Learn to recognize the early signs of the disease and respond fast. Early symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, coughing, and tiredness. More serious symptoms include difficulty breathing, chest pain or pressure, and loss of speech or movement.

But symptoms aren’t the only cause to be wary. If anyone in the house has been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, you would also want to minimize their contact with anyone else in the household until you get the advice of a medical professional about the next steps to take.

3. Strengthen Everyone’s Health & Immunity

It might be a cliche saying but it’s timeless: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It’s not impossible for the body’s immune system to resist COVID-19. This is why it’s important to take steps in fortifying the health of everyone in the household and especially senior persons. So don’t forget the basics:

  • Maintain a balanced diet
  • Take supplements – especially immunity-boosting ones
  • Have regular exercise
  • Get some sun
  • Get healthy amounts of sleep

4. Employ the Use of Handwashing and Rubbing Alcohol

Regular handwashing and the use of rubbing alcohol are powerful habits that keep COVID-19 at bay. Soap has a molecular makeup that can attack germs with a lipid membrane, prying it apart like crowbars – and this includes the COVID-19 virus. But for this to be effective, you need to follow proper handwashing techniques.

Rubbing alcohol or alcohol-based products like hand sanitizers cannot take the place of handwashing completely but in scenarios when no handwashing facilities are available, these are a great alternative.

 Closeup of an elderly person’s hands while handwashing

5. Sanitize Surfaces Regularly

COVID-19 can survive on surfaces for hours or days, depending on the material of the surface. So it would be wise to regularly sanitize high-touch surfaces such as:

  • Doorknobs
  • Buttons
  • Handrails
  • Tables
  • Countertops

6. Use PPE Properly

Personal protective equipment (PPE) can definitely help – especially for people of the household who need to go out every now and then. PPE needs to be used, stored, and disposed of properly. PPE against COVID-19 includes masks, gloves, and face shields. These safety items serve as a physical barrier against the virus.

7. Have Healthy Distancing

Practicing healthy distancing at home can be very helpful in protecting your senior members from COVID-19. However, take care to not make them feel isolated in the process. It could be helpful to explain to them why such measures are in place.

8. Postpone Non-Essential Doctor or Dentist Visits

Hospitals, clinics, and dental clinics are understandably high-risk areas during this pandemic. It would be wise to postpone any non-essential or non-urgent visits to these places for members of the household and especially for elderly persons.

9. Avoid Stress & Stay Connected

Though it’s important to be careful and informed, take care to not allow the buildup of stress in the house. This can adversely affect the health of everyone, including your elderly loved one/s. Remember to keep a positive outlook and find ways to stay connected.

You can teach your elderly loved one to video call to stay in touch with distant family. You can let them have garden walks or time on the patio. And even just reassuring calmness and a cheerful smile can make a world of difference.

For more up to date information, visit the Government of Canada website.