Risk group number one: This is how older people can protect themselves against the corona virus
More and more people are becoming infected with the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. The risk of serious illness increases significantly in advanced age. In order to minimize the risk of infection for seniors, meanwhile Visits to retirement homes restricted. But there are more measures that can protect older people from the virus.
The number of through the novel Corona virus caused disease COVID-19 increases significantly. Like the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) explains, the risk of serious illness from 50 to 60 years increases steadily with age. According to the experts, older people in particular can become more seriously ill after an infection due to the less well-reacting immune system. It is therefore important to protect this risk group particularly well from the virus.
No reason to panic
The coronavirus wave is rolling through Germany and the elderly and the elderly are number one risk group when it comes to infections, especially acute respiratory infections.
“There is still no need to panic,” explains Professor Hans Jürgen Heppner, President of the German Geriatric Society (DGG) and chief physician of the Geriatric Clinic at HELIOS Clinic Schwelm and holder of the Chair for Geriatrics at the University of Witten / Herdecke, in one Message.
Rumors and recommendations that old people should best isolate themselves at home are unfounded, according to the doctor. “Grandma and grandpa can and should continue to be visited,” says the experienced geriatrician. But he urges prudence and increased hygiene measures. Also going to church for Easter or the larger family celebration are not a good idea at the moment.
Older people are more susceptible to infections
As explained in the DGG announcement, the human immune system (immune senescence) also ages with humans. The defense against infections works slower and weaker than that in younger people.
Basically, seniors are more susceptible to infections, especially acute respiratory infections, as is often the case with regular influenza flu and now also with coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2).
“In addition, the elderly often have many pre-existing and chronic comorbidities,” explains DGG President Heppner. “If older age and chronic illnesses come together or even several chronic illnesses (multimorbidity), the risk of infection and death increases.”
Geriatricians (geriatricians) experience this every year during the flu season: In the past few years, around 90 percent of deaths due to influenza affected the 60+ age group.
Accordingly, geriatricians draw the same conclusion with regard to the as yet unknown coronavirus: The group of senior citizens and geriatric patients has the highest risk of becoming seriously ill or of dying from the virus.
The chief virologist of the Charité, Prof. Dr. Christian Drosten, according to the DGG, even predicts a possible death rate of up to 25 percent.
Protect people beyond retirement age
“Beyond retirement age, we really have to protect the population,” says Heppner, “but please do everything beyond panic! Nobody will be locked away for months, there will be no contact ban and social isolation is by no means the solution. “
On the contrary: social isolation can also make people sick. However, the expert also urges relatives to rethink any family arrangements.
“The next few months, the grandparents will not be a substitute for daycare or all-day school, as painful as that is. Rather, if possible, children and grandchildren should go shopping for the grandparents so that they don’t have to go to the supermarket and are exposed to the risk of infection. ”
The 10 most important tips for everyday life:
1. Frequently washing hands with soap and water for approx. 20 seconds (disinfectant additives are usually not necessary).
2.Dry your hands thoroughly after washing (change towels every day).
3. Do not shake hands or close physical contact such as hugs to greet you.
4. Keep your distance from people who sneeze or cough.
5. Use disposable handkerchiefs.
Wash hands after coughing, sneezing, and blowing your nose.
7. Avoid large crowds and close physical contact (rather go to church in front of the television at Easter and reduce family celebrations to individual visits).
8.Cancel group trips (prefer to go to the museum with few people).
9. Walk in the fresh air to train your immune system.
10. Carry out pneumococcal vaccination if not already done.
Vaccination is good prophylaxis
The DGG appeals to all seniors to have a pneumococcal vaccination or to get vaccinated:
“Talk to your family doctor and complete your vaccination protection against seasonal flu and pneumococci, as recommended by the Standing Vaccination Committee (STIKO),” said Dr. Anja Kwetkat, director of the clinic for geriatrics at the University Hospital Jena and spokeswoman for the AG-Impfen within the DGG.
“Pneumococcal vaccination is extremely important, since vaccinated patients develop pneumonia with significantly milder symptoms than non-vaccinated patients.”
Because: Similar to the flu, the coronavirus is not the virus itself, but the resulting pneumonia in the end, fatal. Pneumococcal vaccination is good prophylaxis in every respect. (Ad)
- German Society for Geriatrics (DGG): PM: Corona virus: This is how older people can protect themselves or “No kiss for grandma”, (accessed: March 15, 2020), German Geriatric Society (DGG)
- Robert Koch Institute (RKI): Information and support for people at higher risk for a severe COVID-19 disease course, (access: March 15, 2020), Robert Koch Institute (RKI)
This article contains general information only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. He can not substitute a visit at the doctor.