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‘Care for elders’: Need of the hour

Out of the 38 COVID-19 patients who died last week, 24 were above 60 years and another 6 belonged to the 51-60 age group...

As of Friday, in the Madurai district, the elders aged above 60, accounted for 64.7% of all deaths. The elderly are more prone to succumb to the virus than any other age group. So their care should be our priority in this pandemic.

Right now, if the deaths in the 51-60 age group are taken into account, then 80.4% of all deaths are caused by COVID-19 in the district. As of July 2nd, out of the 2,156 active cases, 328 belong to the ‘above 60’ age group. This implies that the elderly population accounts for only 15% of the total number of active cases. However, as we see, the elderly deaths are disproportionately high. So, the experts say that caring for the elderly is crucial to curtailing the fatality rates.

Deaths reported

In Madurai, until May 31st, only three deaths were reported, which constitutes only 5.9% of the total 51 fatalities to date. The last week has contributed heavily to the deaths. Almost three-fourth of the total deaths occurred between 27th June to 3rd July. Of the 38 deaths that took place in this period, 24 were above the age of 60 and another six were in the age group of 51 to 60. The deaths in June account for 94.1% of the total number of deaths.

The District Collector T. G. Vinay and the administration of Madurai have made the care for the elderly, their priority. The Corporation is counting the number of elders in the district and taking into account, their co-occurring health issues. This measure is to be extended to semi-urban areas soon. The collector says, “A majority of the elderly people have been given medicines for co-morbidities such as diabetes and hypertension. If we keep co-morbidities under check, we should be able to keep the risks to a minimum. In case there are any symptoms, they must be isolated. Families must immediately contact the district administration as we have provided telephone numbers to them. It will help in expediting the treatment”.

Exposure to virus

The elderly must have minimum exposure to the virus, by avoiding visiting public places. The family members should maintain a safe distance from the elderly inside the house.

The Senior Consultant & Geriatric Physician of Preethi Hospital, N. Raja suggests everyone who can afford to purchase a pulse oximeter, blood pressure apparatus, and glucometer to do so, in order to check the elders’ oxygen levels which should not fall below 95%. He says, “in case of a drop, they must be immediately shifted to a hospital”. Everyone, especially the old people should take vitamin C and zinc supplements along with a nutritious diet, to improve their immunity.

The elders especially the ones showing symptoms must be kept in isolation, and other people or youngsters displaying even mild symptoms should not come anywhere near them and minimize interaction. This process is known as reverse-cocooning.  According to the physicians, children, and grandchildren who live in these isolated home environments are often the carriers of the disease. Hence, their mobilization should be restrained.

He also adds that the elders must not even go out to buy essential goods. The youngsters need to help them with the necessities or they could reach out to the government authorities for aid.

Also read : Youngest organ donor of India: 20-month-old saves lives

Old age is also referred to as the ‘second childhood’. The elders are as needy of care, as the infants, because of their deteriorating immunity and strength. So we must take care of their basic necessities and ensure that they are safely residing inside their homes, away from the virus.

Shalini Koppula
Hi, I am Shalini Koppula, a student of Xavier law school Bhubaneswar. I'm a socially driven writer and an enthusiastic reader. I want to advocate optimism through my work, and layout peace and love!

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