Why are older people more at risk of COVID-19?

As many countries in the world are fighting with the novel coronavirus pandemic, people above the age of 65 are being told to self-isolate and should fence themselves off from other individuals in order to stop the spread of infection.

 What makes older individuals so much prone to catch and develop health problems from the novel coronavirus?

The effect of COVID-19 is more severe in the elderly population can be partially explained by the fact that pneumonia and influenza are more common among older people and result in death more often.

Now let’s go in detail about the facts of COVID-19 effect on elderly population:

  • The older populations who have acute medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes are at great risk for getting severe complications from COVID-19.
  • One of the known facts of older people is a decline in their immune function. Elderly people don’t have a strong immunity to fight this COVID-19. But exceptions are always there.
  • In older people, the creation of white cells in the bone marrow decelerates, which leaves them with fewer types of white blood cells required to fight off an infection.
  • The virus can quickly make its way to older people’s lungs, can severely damage it and cause breathing difficulties.
  • It further complicates the situation. While we need our immune systems to respond immediately to the virus and strike only the infected cells in our body system and not healthy and good cells. The older individual’s immune function cannot identify foreign agents in the body. The virus attack in their body may result in a complication called “cytokine storm” where the immune system goes into overuse, not understanding when to defend, and as a result, attacks healthy cells in the lungs and different parts of the body and making the effects of COVID-19 critical.

At the same time, even though older people at this stage in their disease may start manufacturing antibodies to the virus, but studies have shown that the antibodies are not able to connect to the virus and fight it off.

Here are some of the precautions to be noted against COVID-19 to protect older people:

  • Young people may get mild symptoms or are asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19. Any carelessness by them may result in the death of those who are elderly.
  • It is extremely necessary that older people should understand themselves as vulnerable adults during this COVID-19 pandemic. Any casual approach from their side can cost the lives of many people during these critical times.

On a positive note, there are records of people above the age of 100 who were admitted to hospital for the novel coronavirus and they totally recovered. Now it is very clear that if you were in good health before the outbreak of COVID-19 then you are at less risk of getting severely affected by it.

During these critical days, we have a moral duty towards older individuals. We should connect with the elderly through phone calls or video calls and also take care of their needs and help them out by maintaining distance.

Image source: https://theprint.in

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