He knew it wasn’t a good idea and her daughter would disapprove. Nonetheless, Rama Rao, 67, recently went to MORE shop in B S layout, to shop for Biscuits, fresh fruit, Butter and other items. “I was in panic mode,” said Rao, who admitted he’s been feeling both agonizing fear and irrational impulsivity because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Manisha, Rao’s daughter, had been warning him exceptionally healthy father for weeks of the need to stay inside as much as possible and limit contact with other people. Everyone age 60 and older is at high risk of complications from COVID-19 and should adopt these measures, according to an advisory by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment along with Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
“At one point, when I was pushing him to limit his activities, my mother said defiantly, ‘Well, I’m going to die of something,’” said , Maisha, a nurse working for Kalavati Hospital. “And I said, ‘Well, that’s true, but let’s not rush it.’
Are precautions of this sort endorsed by the government really necessary, even in areas where the new coronavirus doesn’t yet appear to be circulating widely? What about disease-free adults in their 60s and 70s? Do they need to worry about going to a restaurant or a friend’s house for dinner? Are all outside activities ill-advised? Hello Vizag asked several geriatricians for their advice. All cautioned that what they told could be upended by unforeseen developments. Indeed, times out of number, Vizag district administration creating awareness about impending effects of Covid-19 for senior citizens if they step out of their homes.
Current warnings were originally based on data from daily covid-19 positive cases and subsequent deaths making the geriatricians warnings seem more reliable. Sources treating the patients in Andhra Pradesh, however, said the 10 % of all infections are in the bracket of 60 years, but this group has recorded a majority of Covid-19 related deaths. Several patients in this category who have succumbed to the disease have had chronic health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and cardiac trouble. What’s clear, however, is that older adults have less robust immune systems and are less able to mount a protective response against the coronavirus.
Dr. N S Raju, Managing Trustee of Sneha Sandhya Age Care Foundation, who offers geriatric care services in and around Visakhapatnam said, some people don’t develop symptoms. Others won’t realize they’ve contracted the coronavirus until becoming symptomatic. Both groups may unwittingly transmit the virus, which can live on hard surfaces such as door handles or store shelves for up to 72 hours. Given how little is known about the extent of the virus’s community spread, most physicians suggest erring on the side of caution.
Of course, older adults should follow guidance from state and local health departments, as well as the central government. But the advice varies widely, adding to people’s uncertainty. “I don’t think it’s as simple as ‘Don’t go out’ for all older adults. Social contact is still really important,” Rao said. “If you’re healthy and over 60, with prudence, hand hygiene and being aware of your surroundings, you should still be able to go about some activities,” such as taking a walk or visiting with a neighbor while maintaining a safe distance.
Dr. K Raghav, geriatrician offered several concrete suggestions. If you’re going to the store, consider wearing cloth gloves, because viruses don’t survive as well on soft surfaces. Try not to handle your smartphone when you’re out of the house. “A phone is a hard plastic surface that can easily get contaminated,” he said. If you’re worried that older parents aren’t following rigorous enough precautions, don’t lecture them, Dr. Raghava advises. Instead, ask how they’re feeling about the coronavirus. What do they know about it? What plans have they made?
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