COVID-19 tips for older adults

While COVID-19 guidelines continue to evolve, the older adults have remained among the highest risk groups since the beginning.  That is why older adults often need to take additional precautions.

The rationale for this is not all that surprising. As we age, immune systems often grow weaker, which decreases the ability of an older adult to fight off infectious diseases, such as COVID-19. Chronic diseases are more common with age and can compromise the immune system, making older adults more vulnerable to serious complications.

Avoiding large gatherings and limiting contact with the general public are still believed to be the best defense against COVID-19. It is thought to be spread mainly by people in close contact to each other through respiratory droplets from coughs and sneezes. If you can stay home and avoid being around others, you will minimize the chance of respiratory exposure.

Some precautions you should consider while staying home:

  • Keep your hands clean. Regularly clean and disinfect your surroundings, including high-touch surfaces like counter tops and door handles.
  • Check your regular prescription drugs to make sure you have an adequate supply; refill your prescriptions if needed. Keep an adequate supply of non-prescriptive drugs and other health supplies, including pain relievers, stomach remedies, cough and cold medicines.
  • Keep your cabinets stocked with enough household items, groceries, and water on hand.
  • Consider ways of getting food brought to your house through family, close friends or delivery services.
  • Stay in touch with others by phone or email; you may need to ask for help from friends, family, neighbors, community health workers, etc. if you become sick.
  • Determine who can provide you with care if your caregiver gets sick.
  • Practice physical distancing — keep distance between yourself and others.

While physical isolation is one of the primary ways to protect yourself, it does increase the risk of loneliness and depression. So, make sure while you stay careful, you also stay connected. Establish a regularly check in time with family and friends. Make use of phones and video chat technology to keep up those important in your life, even window chats.

Finally, it is more important than ever to make physical activity a priority. Just because we are staying home, does not mean we should simply sit in the living room. Going for a walk, stretching, gardening and dancing are several great at-home activities to keep you moving, which also keeps you strong both mentally and physically to potentially fight off a COVID-19 infection.

For more information, check out this additional resource from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): www.cdc.gov/aging/covid19-guidance.html.

As part of the primary care practice at UofL Health – Trager Institute Republic Bank Foundation Optimal Aging Clinic, we use a research-based approach and promote lifestyle changes and preventative medicine that will help you flourish and optimally age.

Our team of experts work with you across six areas of health including; biological, social, psychological, individual health behaviors, health services and environment to ensure you get the best medical care – all in one place.

Need a primary care provider? Call 502-588-4340 or fill out our request an appointment form and select “Optimal Aging Clinic.”

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About Christian Furman, M.D., MSPH

Christian Davis Furman, MD, MSPH, AGSF is the medical director for the Trager Institute at the University of Louisville. She is a professor of Geriatric and Palliative Medicine and holds the Smock Endowed Chair for Geriatric Medical Education. She joined the faculty in 2000 and served as vice-chair for geriatric medicine from 2005-2016. In 2015, she was appointed medical director for the institute and in 2016 was named the Smock Endowed Chair. In July 2018, she was appointed as interim division chief for the Division of General Internal Medicine, Palliative Medicine and Medical Education in the Department of Medicine and completed that service in February 2020. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Miami in 1992, a medical degree from UofL School of Medicine in 1996, and a master’s in public health from UofL’s School of Public Health and Information Sciences in 2003. She completed her residency in Internal Medicine at UofL in 1999 and a fellowship in Geriatric Medicine at UofL in 2000. She is board certified in geriatric medicine and hospice and palliative medicine. Her research focuses on palliative medicine in the nursing home setting. She was awarded a Geriatric Academic Career Award to teach palliative medicine to interdisciplinary teams in 2004. In 2012, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services selected Dr. Furman as the only Kentuckian among 73 national health care professionals to participate in the CMS Innovation Advisors Program. She was inducted as a Fellow in the American Geriatrics Society in 2013. Currently, she serves as president of the Association of Directors of Geriatrics Academic Programs (ADGAP) for the American Geriatrics Society (AGS).

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