Protecting the Elderly During the Coronavirus Pandemic

By now, you should be aware of the Coronavirus pandemic that is sweeping the globe.
By now, you should be aware of the Coronavirus pandemic that is sweeping the globe. With many thousands of people infected and many cases resulting in death, it can be difficult not to panic. Elderly people, and those with underlying health conditions, are the most at risk when it comes to Coronavirus. It is therefore essential that we take steps in order to protect our most vulnerable citizens during this time.

What is Coronavirus?

Coronavirus itself is an umbrella term, including a range of viruses from the common cold to more serious respiratory diseases. The current global pandemic relates to a new strain of the Coronavirus known as COVID-19. It is a virus which affects the lungs and airways, often resulting in pneumonia and in some cases death.

COVID-19 was first discovered in the late months of 2019 and is thought to have originated in a ‘wet market’ in Wuhan, China. As of this moment in time, there have been approximately 190,000 cases of COVID-19 diagnosed, 7,500 deaths and around 80,000 recoveries. The mortality rate of COVID-19 is estimated to be around 3-4%. This figure significantly increases however in those over the age of 70. Due to this, it is becoming increasingly important to attempt to reduce the spread of COVID-19 to our elderly population and remain vigilant in order to identify possible symptoms of the virus.

Coronavirus Symptoms

  • A high temperature – this is one of the main symptoms to look out for. This is present in the majority of reported cases.
  • A new, continuous cough – as the virus affects the respiratory system, most infected people will develop a dry cough and report shortness of breath, even when carrying out non-strenuous activities.

Whilst these are the main symptoms to look out for, patients have also reported feelings of fatigue and muscle aches.

Find more information with regards to symptoms here on the NHS website.

Why are Elderly People Most at Risk of Coronavirus?

The vast majority of severe cases of COVID-19 have been reported in elderly people or in those with underlying health conditions. As the body ages, it tends to become less efficient and does not work as well. Due to this, elderly people are more likely to have underlying, chronic health conditions. This could affect their bodies ability to fight the virus, as well as cause unforeseen complications. In addition to this, the body’s immune system naturally depletes with age. This makes elderly people more susceptible to falling ill and will likely result in more severe symptoms than would normally be seen.

Elderly Advice During the Coronavirus Outbreak

In order to delay the spread of Coronavirus and help to better protect our vulnerable and elderly citizens, the government has advised that people showing any symptoms should self-isolate for at least 7 days. They have also stated that people should avoid any unnecessary contact and practice social-distancing. As elderly people are more at risk, Matt Hancock (the Health Secretary for the UK) has advised that elderly people should avoid contact with other people, regardless of their current condition. It has been said that a mandatory isolation period for those over the age of 70 will soon be implemented. This could last up to 4 months. During this time period, elderly people will be urged to stay in their homes, coming into contact with as few people as possible. Contact should be limited to necessities only e.g. relatives who come to drop off supplies and healthcare workers.

Other advice for elderly people during the COVID-19 outbreak remains the same as government advice for all individuals:

  • Wash your hands frequently throughout the day with soap and hot water, for a minimum of 20 seconds each time.
  • You should also ensure that you wash your hands on arrival at a new location e.g. arriving home after the supermarket.
  • If hand washing is not possible, hand sanitiser should be used. This can also be used in addition to hand washing.
  • Ensure you cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or clothing if you cough or sneeze. Tissues should then be put in the bin straight away and hands thoroughly washed. If clothing was used, clothing should be changed and washed as soon as possible.
  • Avoid any unnecessary travel, especially via public transport.
  • Avoid close contact with other people, aiming to keep at least 2m between you and others to help prevent infection.
  • Avoid large gatherings of people, practising self-isolation where possible.
  • Do not touch your face as the virus can live on the hands. This can then be transferred to the mouth and nose if the face is touched before hands have been thoroughly washed.

How can a Personal Alarm Help During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

Many elderly people within the UK already feel isolated and lonely. This can have a detrimental effect on both physical and mental wellbeing. As elderly people prepare to be asked to self-isolate for up to 4 months, it is important to take these things into account. 4 months is a very long time and although self-isolation is designed to protect our most vulnerable citizens, it may cause some distress. They may worry that they will not be able to cope during this elderly isolation period, or may worry that they will not be able to gain help if an emergency situation should occur.

A personal alarm system can help to ease some of these worries for the duration of the elderly isolation period and beyond. Our personal alarms are connected to a designated contact or 24/7 monitoring centre at all times. This allows the user to speak to a responder, at any time of the day, at the push of a button. Designed to be used in emergency situations e.g. falls, illness, compromised safety, the wearer can be assured that help can be gained quickly regardless of the day, time or situation. As the number of cases of COVID-19 rises, it is important that elderly people are able to receive medical attention quickly, should it be required. With a personal alarm system, if an elderly person feels that they are displaying symptoms of coronavirus, they will be able to talk to a responder who can then arrange for the necessary aid to be received.

In addition to this, many of our personal alarms come with automatic fall detection included. By measuring factors such as airspeed and pressure, the device can automatically detect when a fall has taken place. It will then automatically alert the 24/7 response centre, or a designated contact so that help can be quickly gained. As the Coronavirus can cause shortness of breath and fever, the risk of becoming dizzy or falling unconscious significantly increases. By utilising a fall alarm, you can be sure that your elderly loved ones will be protected even if they are unable to call for help themselves.

Coronavirus Pandemic and Mental Well-being risks

This addresses the physical risks of Coronavirus however, mental wellbeing is also paramount. The deterioration of mental wellbeing can cause chronic conditions to worsen, as well as massively reducing the quality of life. With the threat of the Coronavirus pandemic ever-present at this time, many older people are suffering from large amounts of stress. Elderly isolation is only likely to make this worse. A personal alarm can help to alleviate some of these worries, helping them to feel more connected to the outside world and therefore less isolated. You may also want to explore our blog post on how to combat elderly loneliness. Through this, elderly users can be confident that should anything happen to them while they are self-isolating, they will be able to receive medical attention or other forms of aid quickly and effectively. This can also provide heightened peace of mind to relatives of elderly users. They may be worried that their elderly loved ones will not cope well in isolation. This added layer of security helps to provide protection to loved ones and relief to their relatives.

For more information on how our personal alarm systems could help protect your elderly loved ones during the Coronavirus pandemic outbreak, contact a member of our expert team today.