As we enter into another month as a nation fighting the COVID-19 virus, our most vulnerable in nursing homes and assisted living facilities continue to be a main concern. As more information about the virus comes to light and we learn more about how it spreads, it is clear that the elderly population is at greatest risk. In particular, those over the age of 65 with pre-existing conditions should be carefully protected.
If you have a loved one in a nursing home or assisted living facility, we know that this is a very difficult time. It is our goal to provide as much information as possible to keep your family safe. To that end, here is a list of those pre-existing conditions which may cause them great exposure.
- High-blood pressure & cardiovascular disease: While experts are not sure why this condition makes people more vulnerable, it is clearly associated with greater risk. One reason may be that the strain COVID-19 puts on the lungs may also stress the heart; while the virus also may have a negative effect on those with plaque in their arteries. Any type of cardiovascular disease is also a risk factor not to be ignored.
- Atrial fibrillation: An irregular heartbeat can lead to blood clots, strokes and heart failure, and a quarter of those who have succumbed to COVID-19 also had this condition.
- Diabetes: Many viruses thrive on high blood glucose levels, and people with diabetes tend to have compromised immune systems. These two factors contribute to the facts that just over a third of COVID victims are also diabetic.
- Cancer: In particular, those who have battled cancer any time in the last 5 years seem to be particularly vulnerable. Cancer treatments can leave patients immuno-compromised and weak, as well as damage their respiratory systems, which are attacked by this virus.
- Kidney disease: While kidney disease is not one of the top pre-existing conditions on this list, it is still significant enough to mention. Physicians recommend that patients do not skip treatments during this time, as the failure to undergo treatment may make them more compromised.
- Emphysema and bronchitis: Senior citizens with lung diseases are weaker and less able to fight off the respiratory infection. COVID-19 causes inflammation in the lungs’ lining, as well as nerve irritation. The virus can cause inflammation in the lung’s air sacs which can lead to pneumonia.
Just like everyone else, it is critical for senior citizens to wash their hands thoroughly several times a day, not touch their face, and keep surfaces clean and disinfected in order to best fight the spread of this virus. Because susceptibility to catching the virus is so based in personal hygiene, persons with dementia or memory issues may be less likely to keep up these sanitary habits – and thus be at more risk.
Another pre-existing condition which plays into this crisis is depression and anxiety. Although these conditions do not make a senior citizen more likely to come down with the virus, the increased fear and anxiety everyone is experiencing can cause other serious health issues. If your loved one is susceptible to fear or anxiety, you will want to keep in close contact with them as much as possible. Encourage them to eat, get some exercise, and get plenty of sleep.
During this difficult time, the staff at A Banyan Residence extend our concern for all of our residents and their families. We are here to answer any questions you may have about our policies during this situation.