How to deal with COVID-19 when you are over 65
Protecting yourself

Avoiding contact with the infection

Social distancing

Social distancing is deliberately increasing the physical space between you and someone else to avoid getting infected.  Staying at least 6 feet away lessens your chance of catching the virus This means that you need to cancel all outside appointments, including routine hospital, doctor and dental visits. It means not running errands, no meeting friends for lunch, no visitors. It means spending time with your children and grandchildren using your tablet or phone and not in person.  If you are out for a walk it means keeping your safe distance away from other people.  Isolation is a health care term that means keeping infected people away from those who are not infected.  It may be in hospital or it may be at home. Caregivers of a person in isolation get special protective equipment. Quarantine is the term used when isolating someone who has been exposed to infection.  They are at risk of becoming infected and this may happen within a few days of being in contact or as long as 14 days.  Two weeks of self-quarantine is enough time to know whether they become ill themselves and therefore infectious.

Staying at home

Stay at home in self-isolation especially if you are in the vulnerable group.  It is not yet clear for how long but you should plan a week at a time for it being several weeks.  Current thinking from infectious disease experts who have dealt with similar epidemics is that it could be until mid-June.   The advice for older people staying at home is similar to people in self-quarantine. Personal hygiene is very important – washing your hands frequently, coughing and sneezing into a tissue or your elbow and so on.  Follow basic hygiene around the home, especially the bathroom and kitchen, cleaning down those surfaces that get frequently touched.  Don’t share towels and silverware.  Use a dishwasher more often than you would ordinarily do.  Sleep alone and use a separate bathroom if you can.  Shower frequently, and do the laundry regularly and normally. Keep taking your usual medicines.  Exercise, eat well, and stay balanced - informed but carefully cautious about rumors and fraud. Plan what to do every day in case you need to stay at home for several weeks. Watch for symptoms and plan what to do if they occur - keep your Medicare insurance plan details and your doctor’s contact information handy. 

Keeping informed

Stay in touch with the latest news but try not to obsess about it.  Make parts of your day deliberately free from television and the internet, especially close to bedtime. Talk to your relatives and friends every day.   Join an online group that your friends belong to.  Be wary of rumors and stories that seem unreal.   Trust certain websites for reliable advice - we list ones that we trust further on in this site.