COVID-19: Protect the Aged with Chronic Health Conditions

The Alliance for Aging Research (Alliance) and the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) are urging businesses, schools, and federal and state governments to work together to mitigate community spread of COVID-19 and help protect older adults and those with pre-existing medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, cancer, and/or diabetes), including Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, who are at higher risk of serious illness and death from the virus. Demographical data from COVID-19 records show that a greater percentage of mortality cases were the elderly or people with underlying medical conditions.

Both the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have issued advisories to these high-risk groups instructing them to avoid crowds, non-essential travel, and cruise ships. The Alliance and NFID have developed an online resource,“Common Questions and Answers about COVID-19 for Older Adults and People with Chronic Health Conditions”, available at to provide up-to-date information and resources for additional guidance.

William Schaffner, M.D., NFID medical director, strongly advised older adults and those with underlying health conditions to avoid non-essential travel and other crowded events.

Susan Peschin, MHS, president and CEO of the Alliance agrees: “With COVID-19, we all need to examine our responsibility to each other as we think about how to govern our behaviour. We can’t think of this epidemic solely in terms of our risk. We need to act collectively in a cooperative manner to help protect older adults age 60 years and older and those with chronic conditions,”

The Gabi Williams Alzheimer’s Foundation (GWAF) holds the same view and encourages family members and caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s disease to take proactive measures to protect themselves by wearing masks and washing their hands. All who are involved in the care of people with Alzheimer’s disease must practise good respiratory and hand hygiene, for example washing hands often with soap and water (or if this isn’t possible, using a hand sanitizer) and coughing or sneezing into a tissue (making sure to dispose of used tissues immediately into a dustbin).

Dr. Mrs. Abisola Gabi-Williams, the Chairman of the Foundation, calls for a purposeful effort at all levels, across the board, to stop the spread of this deadly pandemic. Caregivers must adhere strictly to all the hygienic guidelines given by the health authorities and the government.

Dr. Mrs. Abisola Gabi-Williams exhorts state governments to ensure that people with an underlying vulnerability, especially those living in care homes, are tested in centres near them.

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