Older Adults and Increased Risk for COVID-19

In the months since we all learned about the novel coronavirus COVID-19 in March, many things have changed about the way we live, work, and play. The global pandemic has certainly changed everyday life from going to the grocery store to visiting family and friends and especially monitoring our health and seeking medical care. If you are older or have parents, grandparents, and/or friends and relatives who are older, there are some additional concerns.

Older Adults Are at Greater Risk

While we know the coronavirus can affect anyone and spreads in human-to-human respiratory droplets, there is a greater risk for older adults and those with underlying health conditions. Here are some risk factors to consider:

  • People aged 70 and over
  • People with an underlying health condition such as diabetes, heart disease, and lung disease
  • People with a weakened immune system which would otherwise give them some protection to the effects of the infection (such as people on anti-cancer drugs, or following a transplant, AIDS, rheumatoid arthritis, or lupus).   Smoking, alcohol, and poor diets also weaken people’s immune systems.
  • Women who are pregnant

How to Stay Healthy

Staying healthy during these times can present some challenges, but many plans are shifting to make things easier. Our partners at Well Advised share this table (below) of what some Medicare plans are doing to help with telehealth and other ways. If you’re wondering how Well Advised can provide this list, it’s because they use artificial intelligence to monitor all the plans and are able to tell you which plan is the best for your needs. Check it out. It’s free.

  HUMANA KAISER AARP UNITED CVS AETNA ANTHEM MEDIBLUE
COVID-19 TESTING   Free Free Free Free Free
TELEHEALTH Free Free Free TeleDoc Free LiveHealth Online Free
PHONE HELP Member support line Free Optum Free NurseLine Free
90 DAY MEDICATION Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
EARLY DRUG REFILLS Yes Yes Yes Yes  
MAIL ORDER OF DRUGS Yes Yes.  Courier service free Yes Yes Yes
COVID-19 INPATIENT TREATMENT Free Normal charges Free Free  
BEHAVIORAL HEALTH Out-patient visits free Emotional wellness center Emotional support line Outpatient telehealth visits freePsych Hub free
OTHER COVID-19 HELP Home oxygen usage e-Visits Mental Health
support
Outreach  

Depending on where you live, there are guidelines to help keep people safer during this time such as social distancing, wearing a mask in public, and being vigilant about routine hygiene measures. For example, Denver guidelines. Check your city guidelines to be sure you know what the best practices are for your area.

Be Prepared

As time goes on and social distancing continues to be recommended, it’s more important than ever to talk to the older adults in our lives to be sure they are managing well during this time when we may not see them in person as often as we used to. Here’s a great guide from our partner Well Advised about how to talk to our parents about COVID-19 (and other important topics).

And perhaps this virus gives us the motivation we need to have important conversations with our loved ones. Show of hands: who knows what company and plan your parents have for health insurance let alone what their wishes are regarding medical care?

There is a check sheet you can use to gather the information, but either way here’s a list of things we should all know about our older loved ones:

  • What company and plans are they on?
    • Tip: Take photos of their Medicare and health insurance card
  • Do they have a living will with instructions?  Where is it or who has it?
  • Their major illnesses
  • Which is their local or favorite hospital
  • Their prescribed medications; and where or how they get them. 
  • What other supplements, or herbs, do they take. What do they take these for?

It’s all a new normal and experts say it’s likely to last for a while until we know more about the virus and/or have a vaccine for wide distribution. So, it makes sense to take steps to weather the storm the best we can. 9Health, a community non-profit, has promoted and provided tools for prevention for 40 years. It’s more important now than ever before and we stand ready to support Colorado in living full and well.

Blog Co-author: Dr. Robert Morris, Chief Medical Officer Well Advised

Financial support provided by Well Advised.

9Health does not endorse companies or products. Financial supporters make our not-for-profit mission possible.

9Health is a 501c-3 community non-profit empowering people to put health in their own hands by providing tools such as preventive health screenings, evidence-based, objective health education and eTools and resources for every day in your health journey.