People at High Risk

Older adults and people who have severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease are at higher risk for more serious COVID-19 illness. This may be because:

  • As people age, their immune systems change, making it harder for their body to fight off diseases and infection.
  • Many older adults are also more likely to have underlying health conditions that make it harder to cope with and recover from illness.

If you are at increased risk for COVID-19 complications due to age or because you have a severe underlying medical condition, it is especially important for you to take actions to reduce your risk of exposure. These actions can slow the spread and reduce the impact of disease. 

How You Can Protect Yourself

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds each time, especially when you’ve been around young children. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick for any reason.
  • Consider avoiding crowds.
  • Stay in touch with others by phone or email. You may need to ask for help from friends, family, neighbors, community health workers, etc. if you become sick.
  • Determine who can provide you with care if your caregiver gets sick.
  • Clean and disinfect your home to remove germs: practice routine cleaning of frequently-touched surfaces (for example: tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks & cell phones).
  • Stay up to date on CDC Travel Health Notices if you are planning on traveling. 
  • Make sure keep enough medications on hand in case you get sick.

Watch for Symptoms and Emergency Warning Signs

  • Pay attention for potential COVID-19 symptoms including, fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you feel like you are developing symptoms, call your doctor.
  • If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19, get medical attention immediately. In adults, emergency warning signs*:
    • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
    • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
    • New confusion or inability to arouse
    • Bluish lips or face

symptoms

If You Get Sick

Stay home and call your healthcare provider and let them know about your symptoms. Tell them that you have or may have COVID-19. This will help them take care of you and keep other people from getting infected or exposed.

What Others Can Do to Support Older Adults

  • Know what medications your loved one is taking and see if you can help them have extra on hand.
  • Monitor food and other medical supplies (oxygen, incontinence, dialysis, wound care) needed and create a back-up plan.
  • If you care for a loved one living in a care facility, monitor the situation, ask about the health of the other residents frequently, and know the protocol if there is an outbreak.