The Elderly And Covid-19 : Coronavirus High Risk Group

The Elderly And Covid-19 : Coronavirus High Risk Group

Here is how coronavirus affects the elderly and those who are most likely to get infected.

One of the first rumours on coronavirus was that it only affected the elderly. However, this was proven wrong as it became widespread and the young were equally contracting the virus. In this article, we show you how coronavirus affects elderly people and those most likely to get infected.

Healthcare workers are striving hard to understand the novel coronavirus that's ravaging the world at the moment. This involves trying to understand the behaviour of the virus in people who contract it and then looking to develop a vaccine or a cure. According to Stat News, COVID-19 kills an estimated 13.4% of patients 80 and older, compared to 1.25% of those in their 50s and 0.3% of those in their 40s.

The elderly and COVID-19: Coronavirus high-risk group

how coronavirus affects the elderly

One information that seems to have remained consistent since the beginning of this outbreak is the fact that older people are more vulnerable. A recent study tried to find out why even among the elderly some survive COVID-19 and others don't. The results revealed that age alone does not determine how a person reacts to coronavirus infection.

“Having multiple chronic diseases and frailty is in many ways as or more important than chronological age,” said George Kuchel of the University of Connecticut. “An 80-year-old who is otherwise healthy and not frail might be more resilient in fighting off infection than a 60-year-old with many chronic conditions”. The reason for this is the fact that the 80-year-old may have a younger immune system.

A lot depends on your immune system and its response when it comes to coronavirus. Your immune system possesses two defences against viruses and other likely invaders. First, it sends out an army of T cells that attack within hours, and then a second wave of defence that takes place days after the invasion of any virus. But as you age, your immune system is unable to produce as many T cells and there's a breakdown in communication between T cells and other cells whose job it is to recognize invaders, attack first and then point your T cells in the direction of the enemy. Reduced production and a breakdown in communication are two reasons why the elderly and those with underlying health conditions find it harder to recover from coronavirus.

Who are in the Coronavirus high-risk group?

coronavirus care

According to the CDC, those at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19 are:

  • People aged 65 years and older
  • Those who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility

People of all ages with underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, including:

  • Those with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
  • People who have serious heart conditions
  • Those who are immunocompromised. Many conditions can cause a person to be immunocompromised, including cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications
  • People with severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 40 or higher)
  • People with diabetes
  • Those with chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis
  • People with liver disease

the elderly and covid-19

Doctors advice elderly people to take care of themselves especially at this time. Take time away from the news because hearing about the pandemic nonstop can be mentally draining. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.

Also read: How To Care For A COVID-19 Patient At Home Without Getting Infected

Source: WHO, CDC

Written by

Lydia Ume