COVID-19 FAQs: Older Adults and People with Chronic Health Conditions

1. Why older adults and people with chronic health conditions at higher risk?

People with underlying health conditions and older adults are at higher risk for more serious COVID-19 infection and death. Some health conditions may include:

  • Hypertension
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Lung disease
  • Heart disease

For older people, their immune system grows weaker which makes it more challenging for them to fight off infectious disease.

2. How to help loved ones who are at higher risk?

Each of us has a role to play in lessening the spread in the community. There are just the same recommendations for people at risk to help protect them. If you are a caregiver for someone in a long-term care facility, you need to respect their rules of who can come and go. You need to know about the plan if there is an outbreak and ask about the health of the other residents repeatedly.

3. How are the symptoms of COVID-19 different from allergies and flu?

The common symptoms of COVID-19 after being exposed to the virus between 2-14 days are:

  • Coughing
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Difficulty breathing

Other symptoms are not as common as a rash that might be a sign of COVID-19. It is important to contact your doctor right away if you have these symptoms. Not everyone with COVID-19 will experience symptoms. The symptoms that they have might be mild enough that they are being dismissed. However, the individual with coronavirus may still be contagious even without showing any symptoms.

4. When to call a healthcare professional?

If you feel pain or pressure in your chest, trouble breathing, unable to stay awake, experiencing new confusion, or have a bluish face or lips you need to call for medical attention immediately. If you think you may have COVID-19 or have been exposed to an individual who had COVID-19, contact a healthcare professional. It is to see if you needed a test or to tell you where you need to go in the case.

5. How do they test for COVID-19?

Healthcare professionals possibly will run tests to prevent common infections and influenza. Not all healthcare facilities can test for COVID-19. There are different tests to diagnose a potential case. For some tests, they require swabbing the throat and nose while others required taking samples of saliva. Others may also require a blood draw. COVID-19 tests detect active infection and will not detect previous antibodies or infection.

6. How to best protect yourself?

The best way to prevent the disease is to avoid being exposed to the virus that causes the disease. Recommendations vary by city or state but generally, it is best to;

  • Avoid non-essential travel
  • Avoid gatherings where social distancing is not possible
  • Avoid any indoor gatherings where face masks are not used

For older people and with underlying health conditions;

  • Stay at home if possible
  • Whenever you go out, always wear a face mask
  • Hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol must be on hand
  • Avoid handshakes and touching surfaces in public places
  • Prevent from touching your mouth, eyes, nose, or face if possible