How to care for the elderly in the coronavirus pandemic?

With the spread of the new Coronavirus , many people who live with elderly people have a challenge ahead: how to take care of this risk group?

Although it is often not easy, there is a need for changes in the behavior of these people, such as the interruption of receiving visitors, for example.

In some cases, the elderly resist the restrictions and, therefore, the help of caregivers or close family members during adaptation is essential. It is ideal to talk and explain in a calm and tolerant way the situation and the need for some actions.

Are elderly people at risk?

-Yeah . The elderly population is part of the risk group for the new Coronavirus, being among the people most vulnerable to lethality due to the disease.

Risk groups are people who have some characteristic in common, which makes them more likely to acquire a certain pathology.

In the case of those who are older, the risks become greater due to different factors.

Until then, according to statistics, the probability of lethality among the elderly is:

Age Likelihood of lethality
Between 60 and 70 years 0,4%
Between 70 and 80 years 1,3%
Over 80 years 3,6%

Despite being relatively low numbers, it is worth mentioning that in some countries like Italy, about 80% of the population infected by Covid-19 was over 60 years old.

Some of the characteristics that make these people vulnerable are:

Low immunity

As people age, in general, the human body becomes fragile, which compromises its functioning.

This also includes the immune system, causing so-called immunosenescence , which is the natural deterioration of the immune system, caused by aging.

Thus, there is a gradual reduction in the speed of reaction and resistance to infectious diseases, for example.

It is worth mentioning that the healthy elderly population has as much chance of contracting the Coronavirus as younger people.

What happens is that, when contracting the disease, elderly people have, in general, weakened immunity, therefore, the tendency is that the disease worsens more intensely, since the ability to fight the virus is limited.

Thus, the older a person is, the greater the risk of lethality by Covid-19.

Other diseases

In old age, some diseases are more common, such as respiratory or cardiac, for example.

Due to these diseases, if left unchecked, there is a decrease in the body’s immunity. Which increases the risk of getting the new coronavirus.

However, if well controlled, the presence of these diseases does not generate much greater risks for infection, but it is an aggravating factor if covid-19 occurs.

Therefore, elderly people with pathologies become even more vulnerable to Coronavirus.

Frequent going to hospitals

In general, due to natural factors of aging such as diseases that need recurrent care, elderly people tend to go to hospitals more often.

Thus, they are more exposed to microorganisms, since these places are usually full of people with different pathologies.

This increases the vulnerability of elderly men and women, placing them in the risk group.

Fewer antibodies

During childhood and youth, it is normal for people to receive unique vaccines against some diseases.

What happens is that, at older ages, these vaccines are generally not as effective as before.

Thus, in general, there is a lower number of antibodies in the body, causing greater vulnerability to infections.

Are all elderly people vulnerable to Covid-19?

Yes , due to the natural aging process. In addition, if other pathologies such as diabetes are present , for example, if there is an infection by Covid-19, the disease may have a more severe course.

According to the Ministry of Health, people over 60 are more susceptible to Covid-19.

In addition, the previous presence of some diseases can further aggravate the clinical condition of infected patients.

Risk diseases include:

  • Diabetes;
  • Hypertension;
  • Asthma;
  • Kidney disease;
  • Pneumopathy – diseases related to the lung,
  • Heart disease – diseases related to the heart;
  • Immunodepression – reduction in the functioning of the immune system.

Thus, elderly people who suffer from these pathologies should take extra care in preventing the disease.

Despite this, it is worth reiterating that all elderly men and women are part of the risk group , so they must take the necessary precautions to avoid contamination.

Care: how to protect elderly people?

In the midst of the pandemic, the elderly population is among the most vulnerable to the Coronavirus.

Therefore, it is important to maintain a routine of care for these people, so that they maintain good physical and mental health.

There are some actions that both the elderly and those who live with them can take to further protect this risk group.

Some of them are:

Maintaining social isolation

Although it is often not an easy task, keeping older people in social isolation is very important for preventing Covid-19.

In addition, the suspension of visits should also be made, even if it is from family members. Because the less contact with other people there is, the less chance of infection.

Especially because there is the possibility of asymptomatic patients, that is, who are contaminated, but did not show any symptoms.

Do not infantilize the elderly

During the quarantine period , it is common for family members to dictate the house rules and inform the elderly person how to act, since he / she is more vulnerable.

However, one should not infantilize and remove the autonomy of the elderly.

It is important that their wishes and opinions are heard and taken into consideration, so that they have a harmonious coexistence and do not feel themselves being treated like children.

Do not abandon medications

Often, elderly men and women suffer from pathologies such as diabetes, hypertension and heart and respiratory diseases, using controlled medications for treatment.

In the pandemic period, it is even more important that medications are administered correctly.

This, because if the treatments of other pathologies are not being done correctly and there is infection by the Coronavirus, the elderly person becomes even more vulnerable to the symptoms and worsening of the disease.

Getting vaccines

Keeping the vaccination card up to date is even more relevant in periods of disease spread.

Therefore, it is worth assisting the elderly when checking which vaccines are pending.

In the case of the coronavirus, it is important that the elderly person receives the flu vaccine and the pneumococcal vaccine – it prevents diseases such as pneumonia , meningitis and sepsis .

They help in the prevention of respiratory diseases that can facilitate the contagion of the virus or even aggravate the disease, in case of infection.

Intensify hygiene care

Hygiene care must be intensified both by the elderly and their circle of living.

Some actions to be taken are:

  • When you get home, take a shower before contacting the elderly person;
  • Whenever you arrive at the residence, take off your shoes before entering;
  • Avoid close contact such as handshakes, hugs or kisses;
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water;
  • When coughing or sneezing, cover your nose and mouth with your elbow or disposable handkerchief;
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth on a recurring basis.

In addition, some care with the hygiene of the environment of the residence must also be taken. Between them:

  • Keep the environment ventilated;
  • When shopping, do not leave the bags on surfaces that the elderly person can contact;
  • Sanitize packaging before use;
  • Clean utensils with gel alcohol.

Maintain hydration

Hydration of the body is one of the pillars to keep the body healthy.

Thus, it is important that the elderly consume fluids. In general, the recommended amount is approximately 2 liters of water per day.

If it is not possible to ingest the total amount in water, it is recommended to alternate with juices and teas.

Perform physical exercises

For those who have no restrictions, performing physical exercises at home is relevant to staying healthy.

Moving the body stimulates the body’s immune action, in addition to increasing mood and vitality.

In addition, exercise also provides benefits for mental health , as it releases hormones that provide a sense of well-being, which reduces stress in general.

Have a good diet

Maintaining a balanced diet is important at all times in life.

Eating healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables helps to strengthen the immune system, in addition to being a source of important vitamins and minerals for the proper functioning of the body.

In general, poor diet can cause malnutrition and even anemia , which consequently causes a decrease in immunity.

Thus, ensuring that the elderly maintain nutritious meals is important to preserve their physical and mental health.

Sunbathing

Despite the social isolation, the elderly and the elderly should not miss the sun.

Moderate exposure to sunlight synthesizes vitamin D in the body. This substance helps in reducing fatigue , strengthening bones and teeth and promotes well-being.

Therefore, it is important to sunbathe for approximately 10 minutes a day. The best time for this is before 10 am and after 4 pm.

Create a routine

Developing a routine is important for regulating the body’s biological clock, as well as assisting in the organization of tasks.

Therefore, it is worth encouraging the elderly person to create a weekly routine, with defined times for each activity.

This habit helps to distribute the day so that the elderly have various activities to spend time and perform daily.

Maintain frequent conversations

In addition to physical well-being, it is worth mentioning that emotional health should also be a point of attention.

Social isolation may not be easy, especially for the elderly who used to go out daily.

Feelings of loneliness and the feeling of being trapped may arise, which is why it is very important that family members maintain, or reinforce, communication, dialogue and affection.

If living together is in the same house, taking a moment out of the day to talk and listen to the elderly person is a good option.

If the family lives in another home, video calls or just a phone call may be the solution. This will help to create an involvement among family members, relieving the feeling of loneliness.


In periods of pandemic such as Covid-19, care for the elderly should be increased, as they are more susceptible to the side effects of the disease.

To prevent contamination, there are attitudes that both the elderly and the people in their circle of coexistence should take, such as maintaining social isolation and intensifying hygiene.

Want to know more about health and Coronavirus? The Healthy Minute has other complete content for you! Read more and stay informed!

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