The challenges faced by elderly during COVID-19
Life is full of challenges for all ages. It becomes even more challenging when you become feeble with old age, when you start to lose the cartilage between your joints and when your own weight becomes a burden for you to carry.
1According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), from 2013 to 2015, 29.3% of people aged between 44 and 64 had arthritis. Meanwhile, the percentage increases dramatically from 29.3% to 49.6% in people aged 65 years or older.
2Another illness – Alzheimer’s, the most common type of dementia has around 50 million people suffering from it worldwide. In US alone there were 5 million Alzheimer’s patients in 2014 which is projected to almost triple by 2060 to 14 million people, according to the CDC. It is a progressive disease which only worsens with age.
Following are some other most common morbidities with stats in older people:
According to the CDC, heart disease remains the leading cause of death in adults over the age of 65 years, accounting for 489,722 deaths in 2014. As a chronic condition, heart disease affects 37% of men and 26% of women 65 years and older, according to the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death among people over the age of 65, with 413,885 deaths in 2014, according to the CDC. The CDC also reported that 28% of men and 21% of women over the age of 65 are living with cancer.
Chronic lower respiratory diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), are the third most common cause of death among people aged 65 and older, with 124,693 deaths in 2014, according to the CDC. Among people 65 and older, about 10% of men and 13% of women are living with asthma, and 10% of men and 11% of women are living with chronic bronchitis or emphysema, according to the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics.
According to the CDC, from 2013 to 2016, obesity affected 40.2% of men and 43.5% of women aged between 65 and 74, while 28% of men and 32.7% of women aged 75 or older had obesity.
Data from 2013 to 2016 obtained from the CDC shows that 61.1% of men and 67.4% of women aged between 65 and 74, while 67.4% of men and 78.7% of women aged 75 or older suffer from hypertension.
These are some common maladies among our older population. These stats show us that being elderly with such health conditions is already very challenging and then if a pandemic breaks out that specifically puts older people in a very high-risk group, life becomes beyond just challenging.
COVID-19 is unlike any other virus we have seen before. It spreads very quickly from one person to another and sometimes doesn’t even show any symptoms making people asymptomatic carriers. This is very alarming because a carrier has the virus, doesn’t show any symptoms whatsoever and still spreads it to others.
The virus – according to the studies, is extra deadly for older people and for people with underlying comorbidities. If you combine those two, the age and the morbidities, everything around you becomes a potential time bomb since the virus can stay stable from hours to days on different surfaces, according to the National Institutes of Health5.
Keeping all these factors in mind the already difficult life of our older population has become even more challenging during this pandemic. That’s why we have seen so many outbreaks with a very high mortality rate in nursing homes across United States6. Nursing homes have been the worst hit areas by this pandemic.
Also, during these trying times home care for the elderly have become very difficult as home healthcare aides can’t take care of their clients properly. Everyday, the healthcare workers have to go to work and everyday they risk getting exposed to the virus. Due to the fact that people who get exposed to COVID-19 don’t start showing symptoms for at least two weeks poses a serious risk to older people getting help from home healthcare workers. These healthcare workers go to different houses and if they get infected they can spread the virus to their other healthy clients which in turn can make things very troubling and often deadly for them.
The only effective way to protect the healthcare professionals as well as every older person they take care of is by using new Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and disposing it of after a single use. However, that is not a viable option as acquiring PPE in bulk is not only difficult but also expensive.
According to health advisory, issued by the government high-risk group people are advised to stay at home at all times and avoid all kinds of interactions with other people until this pandemic blows over. But it is not as easy as it sounds because older people with mild to serious health issues need outside assistance with problems not only pertaining to their illnesses but also with small things like showering, grocery shopping, cooking and laundry etc.
This pandemic has taken a toll on everybody’s life but the older people are one of the worst affected people by the COVID-19 pandemic.
That’s why we, at Kandaka Care always have strived hard to provide our elderly with the service they deserve before this pandemic and we are even more determined to accommodate every need they might have during these rough times without compromising their health.
1. CDC. https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/data_statistics/arthritis-related-stats.htm
2. CDC. https://www.cdc.gov/aging/aginginfo/alzheimers.htm.
3. Health E. https://www.everydayhealth.com/news/most-common-health-concerns-seniors/
4. CDC. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/older-american-health.htm
5. NIH. https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/new-coronavirus-stable-hours-surfaces.
6. Today U. A national disgrace: 40,600 deaths tied to US nursing homes. USA TODAY.
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