Now more than ever, it is vital that people of all ages, especially people older than 65, follow health advice from the authorities and take preventive measures to protect themselves, their families and their communities from COVID 19.
Why people over 65 are more vulnerable to COVID-19
Although coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has evolved to affect people of all ages, some people are more vulnerable to the pandemic that others, says Dr Seranne Motilal from the Vitality Clinical Wellness team.
"Adults age 65 and older, and people with chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, remain particularly at risk for COVID-19 infection and complications," Dr Motilal says.
"Older people may be more vulnerable to severe COVID-19 illness because their immune systems decline with age, making it more difficult to fight infections. In addition, older adults often have underlying medical conditions, which increase the risk of serious COVID-19 disease."
How contracting COVID-19 affects you and your loved ones
Dr Motilal encourages people over 65 to engage in preventive measures to help contain the spread of the virus. These include washing your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water, coughing or sneezing into a flexed elbow or tissue, and maintaining a physical distance in accordance with health authority guidelines.
"This is an opportune time to contribute to society, staying healthy and ‘flatting the curve’ by reducing contact to avoid the spread of COVID-19," she says.
It may be difficult to stay happy and mindful, but try to see these measures as self-care in this time, she says. "Monitor your mood and stay connected to those who can bring joy to your day, by picking up the telephone to chat to those in your social circle," Motilal adds.
Stay safe, be responsible and protect yourself and your community
For the world to manage the COVID-19 pandemic effectively, each individual needs to take responsibility for their own health and that of the people around them. This means doing everything you can to stay healthy, keeping up to date with coronavirus guidelines and following the regulations that are designed to protect us all. Dr Motilal shares the following advice on how you can protect yourself, your loved ones, your community and the healthcare system:
- Stay home and follow physical distancing and isolation measures advised by the World Health Organization and the South African government.
- Avoid close contact, wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, and clean and disinfect surfaces that you touch often.
- Maintain good overall health by eating healthily, staying active at home and getting enough sleep.
- Manage chronic medical conditions by taking your medicine as prescribed and phoning your doctor if you have any problems.
- Keep up to date with vaccines, especially the yearly flu shot.
- Report your symptoms to your doctor if you become ill.
- Ask for help with groceries, medicine or anything else you need help with from family, friends or neighbours.