Older adults are consistently reported to be more at risk of COVID-19. They are more likely to have already got underlying conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or respiratory disease – comorbidities that we now know raise the danger of severe COVID-19 disease. In addition, a possible weaker immune system makes it harder for older adults to repel infection. As a result, the impact on older adults is notable. According to World Health Organization (WHO) data from April 2020, more than 95% of COVID-19 deaths were among people over 60 years of age, and more than half of all deaths occurred in people of 80 years-plus.
The common mental illnesses in older adults are depression, delirium, and dementia. Older adults with a previous history of depression are in danger of relapse or worsening of depressive symptoms. this might be due to psychological stress, poor coping as well as difficulty in ensuring adherence to the routine treatment. In older adults with pre-existing cognitive impairment, there are few unique challenges. Usually, older adults with cognitive impairment have behavioural problems. they have challenges in understanding the COVID-19 pandemic related preventive measures and related information. It is difficult for caregivers to limit mobility in older adults with dementia.
Similar to other situations related to any disaster, most of the older adults are likely to have subsyndromal mental health issues like anxiety and depressive symptoms related to the threat of COVID-19. This will require brief psychological intervention that can be delivered by any health care personnel, volunteers, etc with some guidance and training from mental health professionals.
They should also get appropriate information and clarification about various myths and false messages that are being spread through multiple unreliable sources. Guidance about maintaining a routine, physical exercise, Yoga, meditation, healthy diet, mental stimulation through home-based activities with appropriate safety precautions is essential.
It is necessary to bear in mind that older adults are more vulnerable both physically and psychologically to the COVID-19 pandemic. All stakeholders must work together to ensure their health and well-being.