(CNN) — The novel coronavirus can infect anyone, but it’s older adults — ages 60 and up — who are more likely to get seriously sick from it.
Some tips are applicable to every generation, but there are specific precautions older adults should take to protect their health.
CNN spoke to two geriatricians and pulled guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to assemble what people 60 and up need to know about the novel coronavirus.
You can download a sheet of that information (in English and Spanish) and share with your loved ones. But remember: Recommendations for Covid-19 may change as officials learn more, so monitor your local health department and the CDC for updates.
The CDC says “older adults” and people with severe chronic illness are more likely to become severely ill from Covid-19.
Infectious disease experts define “older adults” as anyone age 60 and up, so people in that age group should be cautious.
It’s possible to contract the virus at a younger age — it’s just more dangerous in older adults because the immune system weakens with age, said Dr. Samir Sinha, director of Geriatrics for the Sinai Health System and the University Health Network in Toronto.
People over the age of 80 may want to exercise even more caution. A report published in the medical journal JAMA that examined more than 72,000 Chinese coronavirus patients found that the overall fatality rate was 2.3%.
But in adults over 80, the fatality rate rose to 15%.
If you live in a community where there’s an outbreak, you’re at a higher risk of infection, too. Follow the advice below.
What precautions you should take now
Cancel all non-essential doctor’s appointments, said Dr. Carla Perissinotto, an associate professor in the Geriatrics Division of the University of California-San Francisco’s Department of Medicine.
- Whether it’s a standard check-up, a follow-up appointment for a stable condition or an elective procedure, if it can wait, then it should.
- If you have an important appointment coming up, consider doing it in a video call or from your smartphone. Telehealth tech lets physicians confer with patients who may not be able to leave their homes.
- Tell a friend, a loved one, a co-worker or a neighbor if you’re concerned about the illness. Appoint one of them as an emergency contact who you can call with concerns or requests for help.
Otherwise, do what you’d do during flu season: Wash your hands frequently, the right way (get ready to read that a lot). Use hand sanitizer when soap and water aren’t available, though washing your hands is preferred.
- Cancel non-essential doctor’s appointments
- Schedule telehealth sessions for appointments you can’t miss
- Designate an emergency contact
- Wash your hands frequently (scrub for 20 seconds with soap and water)
- Use hand sanitizer when soap isn’t available
- Make sure you have enough groceries and household products to last you a “prolonged period of time” at home
- Prescription medication may be difficult to get ahead of time, so consider mail ordering
- Avoid nonessential plane travel
- Don’t go on a cruise —— cruise ship passengers are at a higher risk of infection
- Stay at home as much as possible if you live in an area where there’s an outbreak
- In public, avoid crowds and poorly ventilated buildings
- Keep several feet of distance from people
- Wash your hands with soap after going in public
- If you need to isolate, keep in touch with family and friends
- Most long-term care facilities have pandemic plans
- Call facility staff for information on their plan
- If you’re sick, do not visit a nursing home
- If you’re visiting a nursing home in an outbreak area, get screened before entering
- Figure out an alternative mode of communication if a nursing home bans visitors
If you think you’re sick
- Call your doctor before going in for a test
- Don’t use public transportation and stay at home as much as possible
- Call a local coronavirus hotline for more information
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