COVID 19 outbreak is of concern to the general population, however, data from China and Italy – the two most affected countries – shows that older adults are more susceptible to contracting the virus. A March 4th analysis by the national health institute found that of the 105 patients who died from the virus, the average age was 81. The age, weakened immune system, and underlying medical conditions make the seniors more vulnerable to contracting and recovering from the virus. Please talk to the seniors you know and include them in your plans to stay informed and self-monitor to prepare for emergencies.

As much as we are keeping ourselves informed via social media and the internet, our seniors may not have access to the same resources. If you know a senior, make sure they are properly informed with the correct information from authorized sources. Hearing third party information from social media or various news channels may make them fearful and isolate them. Just remind yourself to keep checking on any seniors you may know. Ensure they are meeting their basic needs and have enough supplies and resources. We can also be mindful while shopping not to stockpile things we do not necessarily need and leave enough for individuals that may need it more.

Also, if you are out and notice a senior in assistance, please try to reach out or find an appropriate source to help them. During a time like this it is better to come together and help everyone feel safe and protected. That means even if you are young and have no underlying condition you should still take the precautionary steps to protect yourself against the COVID-19 virus and those around you, especially the seniors and other vulnerable populations. Everyone, regardless of age or disability, should follow CDC’s recommendations to help prevent the spread of all respiratory diseases. For example, avoid close contact with people who are sick, regularly wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and most importantly stay home if you are sick.

Seniors may not remember all the necessary information to protect themselves and to self-monitor. It is important that we continuously check in on them and help with monitoring symptoms. Symptoms may include, fever, cough and shortness of breath. If you believe that a senior may have been exposed to COVID-19 and is developing symptoms the best thing to do is call Telehealth Ontario. If it’s an emergency, call 911. You do not want to expose them to crowds and hospitals where they could be at more risk of contracting and spreading the virus. Follow the direction of the healthcare professional or the emergency responder .