The world’s geriatric population (people aged 60 and older) will cross two billion by 2050 from nearly one billion in 2020 and in the case of a pandemic like novel coronavirus, these loved ones are at high risk of death owing to a multitude of factors like underlying conditions and low immunity.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 125 million people are aged 80 years or older today and by 2050, there will be almost this many (120 million) living in China alone — and 434 million people in this age group worldwide.
A recent report published in the medical journal JAMA which examined more than 72,000 Chinese coronavirus patients found that the overall fatality rate was 2.3 per cent. But in adults over 80, the fatality rate rose to 15 per cent.
By 2050, 80 per cent of all older people will live in low- and middle-income countries where health facilities are already dismal.
Public health experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are urging older adults, especially those who already have health challenges, to “stay at home as much as possible” to avoid getting COVID-19.
Early research shows that older people are twice as likely to have serious complications if they get COVID-19.
People with chronic conditions such as heart disease, lung disease and diabetes, are more at risk for severe cases of COVID-19.
“If you are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19 because of your age or because you have a serious long-term health problem, it is extra-important for you to take actions to reduce your risk of getting sick with the disease,” said public health experts at the CDC.
Older adults living in communities where the virus has spread should take extra precautions like avoiding public places.
According to Ravi Shekhar Jha, Senior Consultant and Head of the Department, Pulmonology, Fortis Escorts Hospital Faridabad, “Older adults’ lungs take more time in clearing up and there is not clear secretion from the lung. All these factors make them extremely vulnerable to the coronavirus.”
Another analysis of all cases diagnosed in China found that 86.6 per cent were aged 30-79 years.
Data from Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) showed that the mortality rate of COVID-19 patients aged 80 or older was 5.4 per cent, compared with an Daverage mortality rate of 0.6 per cent.
According to Rajesh Chawla, Senior Consultant, Respiratory and Critical Care, Indraprastha Apollo Hospital in New Delhi, elderly people above 50 years of age suffering from diabetes and heart disease need to take extra precautions as coronavirus can lead to severe conditions in them.
The CDC advises against non-essential plane travel for older adults.
“The data continues to say that the people who are at higher risk for severe disease and death are those who are older and with underlying health conditions,” according to Nancy Messonnier, MD, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC.
Depending on how severe the outbreak is, public health officials may recommend community actions to reduce people’s risk of being exposed to COVID-19. These actions can slow the spread and reduce the impact of disease.
If you are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19 because of your age or because you have a serious long-term health problem, it is extra important for you to take actions to reduce your risk of getting sick with the disease. If you have someone senior at home, it is time to take some extra measures for your loved ones till the COVID-19 scare goes away. (IANS)